Pictured: Brandyn Curry had 11 points and eight rebounds Saturday night (Chris Wraight).
PRINCETON, N.J. - The Harvard men's basketball team could not overcome 23 fouls and 14 turnovers as Princeton came back from a seven-point halftime deficit to beat the Crimson, 54-51 at Jadwin Gym.
Harvard finishes the regular season at 21-7 overall and 10-4 in the Ivy League while Princeton improves to 19-8 and 10-3 in the Ancient Eight. Both teams are awaiting news on postseason tournaments in the next 8-10 days although the Tigers have one more game on Tuesday night against Penn.
In a game involving two of the top Ivy teams this season, the race for second place was marred by 44 fouls and missed free throws. Princeton capitalized on Harvard's 14 miscues by scoring 19 points while Harvard, the nation's fourth-best free throw shooting team, also missed seven of its 21 free throws (.667) including two front end opportunities.
In the end, Princeton scored the final four points at the foul stripe to erase a 51-50 Harvard lead after Brandon Curry connected from the corner with 1:12 left.
Harvard led by seven points on numerous occasions, the last of which came at 32-25 with 17:28 after a layup from Doug Miller. Harvard then turned the ball over on four of its next five possession as the Tigers made their move, taking their first lead of the game, 34-33, at the 13:42 mark on a triple from Doug Davis. Another one from Marcus Schroeder made it a four-point lead and Kareem Maddox then converted a traditional 3-point play with 7:23 left to make the score 44-39.
Harvard slowly worked its way back into the game.
With the game tied at 48 and under two minutes to play, Princeton used a backdoor cut to Maddox for a soft lay-in but Curry responded at the other end with a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:12 left as Harvard took its first lead since early in the half, 51-50.
Perhaps a foregone conclusion the game would be decided with fouls, Schroeder was awarded a trip to the line where he made both freebies for a one-point margin. After traded scoreless trips, Harvard set up with 27 seconds left but a runner from Lin rimmed out and Schroeder went back to the line where he made two more for a 54-51 lead with 12 seconds remaining.
The Crimson could not get a good look at the hoop and the Tigers survived the ugly affair.
Curry led Harvard with 11 points and eight assists while Maddox had a career-high 18 points for Princeton on 10-of-11 shooting at the charity stripe to offset a 4-of-10 mark from the floor.
In a whistle-happy first half, Harvard scored the first seven points and shook off numerous turnovers as the Crimson eased out to a 20-13 lead following a triple from Jeremy Lin with 5:13 left. Princeton cut the lead to two points on three occasions and got within 22-20 at 3:12 before the visitors went into the break leading 25-20.
Harvard overcame nine turnovers (credited with one assist) in the half but finished with 14 against just five assists. The loss marked the first of the year for Harvard when leading at halftime (19-1).