Harvard's senior class is the first in program history to finish its career undefeated at Yale (Gil Talbot).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Harvard men's basketball team went into hostile territory Saturday night and came out with a win, defeating Yale in front of a sold-out crowd at Lee Amphitheater, 52-50.
The game was as intense as one would imagine from the oldest rivalry in collegiate athletics, and was made even more so by the fact that Yale entered the day one game ahead of Harvard for first place in the Ivy League standings. The Crimson erased that deficit with the win, however, improving to 15-5 overall and 5-1 in Ivy play while Yale fell to 16-7 overall, 5-1 against the conference.
Defense was the name of the game from the tip with the teams combining for just 27 points through the first 20 minutes. Harvard held Yale to 31.5 percent (17-54) shooting on the night, including a 3-of-22 performance in the first half, while the Crimson needed a 12-of-24 effort in the second half to finish the night at 40.0 percent (20-50).
Wesley Saunders was the game's high scorer with 16 points, and the senior hit 8-of-10 free throws after the break to help secure the win. Siyani Chambers contributed eight points, six assists and two steals, with Steve Moundou-Missi adding eight points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
Yale had entered the game as the top rebounding team in the conference but the Crimson controlled the post, outrebounding the Eli 42-32 while owning a 28-12 advantage in points in the paint.
With the win, Harvard's senior class finishes as the first in program history to go 4-0 at Yale over the course of its career. The Crimson has also now won 12 straight Ivy games on the road, with all five of its conference victories this year coming away from Lavietes Pavilion.
Both Harvard and Yale came out of the locker room matching the crowd's energy and intensity, resulting in a defensive stalemate that saw the teams open the game a combined 2-of-15 from the field. The Crimson finally began to create separation midway through the half as Jonah Travis powered his way to the basket. Saunders followed soon after with a drive through traffic, and on the team's next possession the senior found Moundou-Missi for an easy layin and a 14-6 lead.
Saunders drove straight down the lane to make it a 16-10 game and end a 4-0 Bulldog run, and the score would stand at 16-11 at the break as neither team could connect over the final 4:04. Harvard finished the frame shooting just 8-of-26 from the floor with Yale going 3-of-22.
In a complete reversal of the first half, the teams combined for 22 points in the first 4:19 of the second. The Bulldogs pulled within 22-21 as Jack Montague connected on a 3-pointer, but Chambers stepped into a shot at the other end to push the score to 25-21. Harvard responded to a second triple from Montague with a Zena Edosomwan bucket and a pair of free throws from Saunders, and after consecutive baskets by Moundou-Missi the Crimson was in front 33-26.
Yale pulled within one point again on a Javier Duren jumper, and this time it was Agunwa Okolie and Corbin Miller who provided the answer to make it a 38-32 game. The Crimson extended its margin to 46-36 with a 7-0 stretch, with Chambers connecting from 3 to begin the run before capping it off with an assist to Okolie.
The Bulldogs kept coming, however, and got to within 46-41 as Duren hit from long range. Armani Cotton's putback off a missed free throw cut it to 49-45 with 14 seconds to play, and after Saunders went 1-of-2 at the line Montague buried his third 3-pointer of the half to move the score to 50-48 with 7.1 remaining.
Saunders was sent to the line and calmly hit both free throws, helping to negate a Montague buzzer beater and secure the 52-50 victory.
Game Notes: Harvard's senior class finishes its career 4-0 at Yale, becoming the first senior class to go undefeated in New Haven in program history … Harvard has won a program record 12 consecutive Ivy League road games … Yale's 11 points scored in the first half were the fewest allowed by Harvard in any half under head coach Tommy Amaker … Yale's three field goals in the first half were the fewest allowed by Harvard in any half under head coach Tommy Amaker … Harvard has held six opponents to fewer than 20 points in a half … Harvard has held 13 of 20 opponents to fewer than 60 points for the game, with six opponents scoring 50 points or less … Siyani Chambers dished out six assists to move into a tie with Jeremy Lin '10 for sixth place on Harvard's career list (406) … Steve Moundou-Missi recorded two blocks to move into fourth place in Harvard history (118) … Corbin Miller has made at least one 3-pointer in each of Harvard's 20 games this season, the fifth longest streak in program history … Harvard improved to 4-1 in games decided by three points or less.