Harvard's comeback was the second-largest under head coach Tommy Amaker (Gil Talbot).
ITHACA, N.Y. – The Harvard men's basketball overcame a 21-point deficit with 9:02 remaining on the road at Cornell Saturday night, stunning the Ithaca crowd with a 76-74 victory.
Harvard (11-15, 3-7 Ivy League) trailed for 36:57 before taking its first lead of the night on Agunwa Okolie's puback with 1:59 to play. After Zena Edosomwan blocked Robert Hatter's layup at the other end, the junior came away with two offensive rebounds to extend the Crimson possession before being left all alone along the baseline for a two-handed slam and a 74-71 advantage with just 32 clock ticks left.
Cornell (9-14, 2-7 Ivy League) answered right away as Matt Morgan buried his fifth 3-pointer, leveling the score at 74-all. With time winding down the Crimson put the ball in the hands of 6-1 point guard Tommy McCarthy, who drove to the lane and lifted a floater over 6-7 forward Jordan Abdur-Ra'oof for the 76-74 margin with 5.5 seconds remaining.
Following a Big Red timeout, Okolie, Harvard's best defensive player, knocked the ball away from Morgan as he dribbled up the court, sealing the improbable come-from-behind victory.
McCarthy finished the game with a career-high 21 points and eight assists, one night after setting his previous career-high with 17 at Columbia. Okoklie added 16 points and seven rebounds, as Edosomwan contributed his 10th double-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and the one big block. Corey Johnson also reached double-digits with 10 points and three steals.
Morgan led all scorers with 27 points but was the lone member of the Big Red in double-figures. After shooting 60.0 percent (15-25) from the floor and 8-of-13 from 3 in the first half Cornell cooled off, shooting just 29.2 percent (7-24) after the intermission.
Harvard will be back in action next weekend as it travels to Yale and Brown. The Crimson and Eli will first take to the court Friday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. live on FOX Sports 1. Harvard and Brown will meet the following night at 6 p.m. live on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Cornell sprinted out to a 13-3 lead and went in front 19-8 on Morgan's third 3-pointer. The Big Red stayed hot, moving the score to 27-10 on a Abdur-Ra'oof 3, but Harvard began to chip away with McCarthy's third triple and five points from Okolie to pull within 30-19.
The Big Red responded with a 9-2 stretch to regain a 39-21 margin, but after Andre Chatfield's reverse layup the deficit was 46-31 at the break.
The teams matched each other early in the second half with Johnson's layup putting the score at 54-38 with 14:59 to play. Johnson later made it a 58-44 game with his first make from distance, but six-straight points put the Big Red back in front, 64-44.
Trailing 67-46 with 9:02 to play, Harvard outscored Cornell 17-2 over the next four-plus minutes to cut the deficit to 69-63 on Patrick Steeves' 3-pointer, his first make of the day.
McCarthy connected with Steeves on a lob to answer a pair of Cornell free throws, and Steeves followed another triple from Johnson to put the score at 71-70 with 2:41 remaining.
Game Notes: Harvard trailed by 21 points with 9:02 to play, marking the second-largest deficit overcome under head coach Tommy Amaker and the 21st-largest second-half comeback in NCAA history … Tommy McCarthy hit the game-winning field goal with 5.5 seconds remaining and finished the night with a career-high 21 points … Tommy McCarthy also dished out eight assists, his 11th game this season with at least five assists … Zena Edosomwan contributed his 10th double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds … Corey Johnson has made 63 3-pointers, the most by a freshman under head coach Tommy Amaker … Harvard has made 194 3-pointers this season, the fourth-most in program history … Harvard has blocked 127 shots this season, the sixth-most in program history.