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Freshmen Dominate; Harvard Drops Santa Clara, 74-66

Pictured: Kyle Casey had 27 points as the Crimson downed Santa Clara, 74-66

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Behind its vaunted freshman class and homecoming guards Jeremy Lin and Oliver McNally, Harvard men's basketball defeated Santa Clara, 74-66, Monday night at the Leavey Center.

Harvard improves to 11-3 overall, extending its own record for nonleague wins in a season. Santa Clara sees its record dip to 8-9.

Postgame Videos:

Much was made about the Bay Area homecoming of star guards Lin and McNally and a pro-Harvard crowd jammed Santa Clara's gym with its biggest nonconference ever (4,700). It wasn't all about Lin however, despite an outstanding game with nine assists and three steals.

Harvard freshmen accounted for 53 points, led by Kyle Casey who poured home 27 points to mark his third-straight game with a career high in scoring to go with a game-high eight rebounds. Christian Webster added 15 points and Dee Giger 10. Lin involved his teammates early and often, and combined his nine assists with five for McNally who also added eight points. Lin also dished out five passes that directly led to Harvard players going to the free throw line.

Harvard sophomores added 13 points as upperclassmen scoring just eight points in the game (Lin six, Doug Miller two).

Using impressive ball movement, Harvard went to the bonus at 10:29 with Casey doing damage on the floor. Leading 47-40 lead, Lin drove the lane and kicked out to Giger who was true from the wing for a 50-40 margin as the Crimson never looked back. Still no player had taken more than five shots and Giger struck again on the next possession for an 11-point lead.  Webster followed another triple as Harvard stayed hot from deep before Giger drove the lane for two more and a 58-45 lead with seven minutes left.

With 5:48 left and the shot clock winding down, Casey, the reigning Ivy League rookie of the week, drained a crucial triple from the wing for a 61-46 advantage. After getting a stop, Lin juked defender and soared through the lane for two more points.

Santa Clara did get within 67-60 with under two minutes but Lin drew a charge in the lane against Robert Smith with 1:19 as the Crimson endured.

Harvard was 25-for-37 from the free throw line in the game with Casey converting 13-of-16 himself. The Crimson also shot 52 percent from the floor

Despite 11 first half turnovers, Harvard claimed a 32-26 halftime lead thanks to 13 points from Casey, six assists, three steals and two blocks from Lin and seven rebounds from Keith Wright.

Lin had two steals and two assists in the first three minutes of play and added a third assist on a triple from McNally to make it 9-7 in favor of Harvard at the first media timeout.

A backdoor cut and layin from Lin made it 17-11 but the Crimson went scoreless for 5.5 minutes to allow SC back into it before Giger made a layup for a 19-17 score at 7:39.

Lin's fifth assist of the half was a court-length outlet to Casey who stuffed home a dunk for a 21-19 lead with seven minutes left. Lin was then fouled after picking up his third steal with 3:55 left and his two free throws made it 27-22. A beautiful crossover dribble by Lin and dish underneath to Webster for his sixth helper made it 29-24 before Trasolini connected for two straight occasions to buoy SC. Shortly before the half, Casey drained a long ball for the 32-26 lead going into the locker room.  

Marc Trasolini matched Casey with 13 first half points but SC was hurt by 6-for-12 free throw shooting in the opening half. Trasolini led SC with 220 points on the night (7-8 FG).

The Crimson is back in action on Saturday with its Ivy League opener at home against Dartmouth