The Crimson controlled the post to advance to the Great Alaska Shootout semis (Sam Wasson).
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Steve Moundou-Missi scored 20 points and Wesley Saunders added 19 as the Harvard men's basketball team defeated Denver Thursday night, 68-60, in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout.
Mondou-Missi shot 6-of-10 from the field and 8-of-8 from the line, to go with eight rebounds and three blocks. Saunders, meanwhile, was 8-of-13 and added nine boards, three assists and two blocks. Kyle Casey also reached double-figures for the Crimson with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Harvard (5-1) shot 46.9 percent (23-49) on the night and was 21-of-28 at the line. The Crimson owned the post with a 38-23 advantage on the glass, a 40-30 edge in the paint and 17 second-chance points.
Denver (0-3) was led by Brett Olson's 16 points and Jalen Love's 12. The Pioneers shot just 42.6 percent (20-47) from the field and were held to a 4-of-18 performance from beyond-the-arc.
The Crimson will now face Green Bay in the semifinals of the Great Alaska Shootout Friday, Nov. 29 at 12 a.m. live on CBS Sports Network. The Phoenix advanced to the semis with a 97-89 win over Pepperdine in its first round matchup on Thursday.
Harvard fell behind 5-0 after two possessions but baskets by Moundou-Missi kept the Crimson close, 7-4. Moundou-Missi's second bucket sparked a 12-0 run as Siyani Chambers followed with a three to even the game, 7-7. Moundou-Missi gave Harvard its first lead at the line, 9-7, before Saunders scored five straight points, including an and-one, for a 14-7 margin.
Denver cut its deficit to three points as Olson got behind the defense for a layup, but Moundou-Missi responded again with back-to-baskets for a 24-17 edge. Agunwa Okolie converted on the break following a Saunders steal to make it a 30-21 game, and Casey beat the clock with a tip-in to give the Crimson a 10-point advantage at the half, 36-26.
Moundou-Missi led all scorers through the first 20 minutes with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting to go with nine points and three assists from Saunders.
Saunders scored the Crimson's first four points out of the break as Harvard grew its lead to 40-27. The Pioneers hung tough, however, and used a 15-6 stretch to pull within four after an Olson basket with under 12-minutes to play, 46-42. Harvard found its answer this time in the form of Casey, as the senior drove the lane for the hoop and the harm. Moundou-Missi converted in the paint after corralling the offensive rebound off Casey's missed free throw, and Okolie made it six straight points as Harvard regained the double-digit lead, 54-44.
Denver made one final run to cut it to a seven-point lead, 62-55. Chambers and Laurent Rivard were able to hit all six of their free throws down the stretch, however, as Harvard held on for the 68-60 victory.
Game Notes: Steve Moundou-Missi scored 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting, 8-of-8 from the line, marking the second time in three games he has scored at least 20 … Kyle Casey scored 10 points and is now just three points shy of 1,000 for his career … Laurent Rivard was held without a three-point field goal for the first time since March 1, 2013 at Princeton … Harvard is the first Ivy League team in 36 years of Shootout history to advance to the semifinals.