Pictured: Kyle Casey, Christian Webster and Brandyn Curry were joined by Dee Giger as an impressive group of freshmen led Harvard past Yale, 82-79.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – With the Ivy
League’s top recruiting class in each of the last two years,
supporting evidence of such was on display throughout the Lee
Amphitheater Friday night as the Harvard men’s basketball
team stunned a loud Yale crowd in overtime, 82-79.
Harvard (16-5, 5-2 Ivy) returns to action Saturday night at Brown. Yale (9-15, 3-4) will host Dartmouth.
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Harvard entered the game minus three prominent frontcourt
players and ended it minus two vaunted guards but the
Crimson’s depth and impressive coaching decisions allowed the
Crimson to come back from a nine-point deficit in regulation.
At the end of regulation and in overtime, Jeremy Lin (18 points, 7-9 FG, 4 assists) and Oliver McNally (5 points, 5 assists) - who helped send the game into OT on a free throw with 1.4 seconds left - fouled out in a wildly-called game. In crunch time, head coach Tommy Amaker would lean on four freshmen – Brandy Curry, Christian Webster, Dee Giger and Kyle Casey and sophomore Max Kenyi, just two games removed from a lengthy injury. The youngsters responded loudly.
The freshmen scored 14 of Harvard’s 16 overtime points with 11 coming at the free throw line (12 attempts) as Harvard carefully managed the clock. Curry did not miss a shot all night, going 5-of-5 from the floor, 2-of-2 from deep and 3-of-3 at the line for a career-high 15 points to go with five boards and four assists; Webster scored all 12 of his points after the break and hit a trio of clutch triples; Casey battled for 41 minutes and finished with 20 points (7-8 FT) and seven rebounds; Giger, meanwhile, provided perhaps the most important two-minute stretch of the year for Harvard.
Giger came off the bench and hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 26 seconds left in regulation off a second-chance rebound from Webster to send the game into overtime. Once there, he calmly accepted Yale fouls and hit three free throws in the final seconds to ensure the win.
In all, Harvard’s freshmen provided 53 points. The team also committed just 10 turnovers with dishing out 17 assists.
Lin showcased himself in impressive fashion as he carried Harvard back from a big deficit in the second half - but became the victim of fouls as he attempted to hold off a much larger Yale team on interior help defense. Once he left, Doug Miller took over in the low post on defense, turning back three shots.
Two more freshmen - Geoff Georgatos and Spencer deMars provided crucial minutes on the blocks as well and eventually forced Yale into a one-man show consisting of Alex Zampier. Zampier provided a game-high 32 points (14-15 FT) on a series of impressive fade-aways but the Crimson’s league-leading 3-point defense was also on display, limiting him to 2-of-11 from long range and the Bulldogs a 5-of-19 team mark.
In the first half, the teams played even throughout the early going until Miller was whistled for his third foul with seven minutes left. After Harvard had turned a 14-9 deficit into a 20-17 lead, Yale went on a 12-1 run as the Crimson went cold from the floor in scoring five points in the final 10 minutes. A layup underneath with two seconds left gave the home side a 34-25 advantage.
Harvard started 4-of-6 from long range before missing its last six from beyond the arc and Yale outrebounded the smaller Crimson 21-12.
Harvard erupted to start the second with defense and impressive ball movement leading to a 15-2 run during the first seven minutes to take a 40-36 lead. The lead got to 43-38 on a triple from Webster but Yale rattled off seven straight points and claimed a 51-47 lead with 7:17 left.
Harvard clawed back into contention behind Curry and Lin, and a frantic finish saw the teams trade multiple 3-point plays before each team had chances to win at the stripe down the wire.