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Men's Basketball Moves Into First Place, Tops Columbia 61-42

Keith Wright paced Harvard with 16 points and 12 rebounds (Stephen Slade).

NEW YORK – The Harvard men's basketball team grabbed a share of first place in the Ivy League, as the Crimson earned a 61-42 road win at Columbia Saturday evening. In the process, the Crimson also earns its 20th win of the season, marking the second straight season and the second time in program history Harvard has reached the 20-win plateau.

The Crimson, which has now swept three Ivy weekends this season, stands at 9-1 in the Ancient Eight and 20-4 overall. Keith Wright paces Harvard's offense with his 11th double-double of the season and second in as many days, as he scored 16 points and added 12 rebounds. Oliver McNally contributed 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field, while Brandyn Curry had 12 points and five assists and Kyle Casey collected nine rebounds to go along with 10 points. Brian Barbour and Max Graig led Columbia with eight points apeice, but the Lions fall to 14-10 overall and 5-5 in Ivy action.

Harvard, which had four players reach double figures in scoring, finished 18-of-18 from the foul line and owned a 36-18 advantage in rebound. The Crimson made 51.3 percent of its shots, while holding the Lions to just 34.0 percent shooting.

Casey made the first field goal of the game, connecting on a long jump shot from just to the right of the top of the key at 17:44, as Harvard opened up a 4-0 lead. McNally followed with a layup and then Curry buried a triple from the right corner, as Harvard upped its advantage to 9-0 by 16:07. With the shot clock winding down, McNally hit an acrobatic jumper in the lane to put Harvard up by eight, 11-3, just before the second media timeout. With 7:43 to play in the first half, Curry stepped up and nailed a 3-pointer, as Harvard continued to control play in the first half, 18-8.

McNally banked another tough layup with 5:48 remaining, as Harvard continued to maintain its lead over Columbia, 20-12. Wright swooshed a jumper from the right moments later, making it 22-14 in favor of the Crimson. With just over two minutes left in the frame, McNally buried a long 3-pointer from several feet beyond the top of the key, as Harvard led by 13, 29-16.

Led by McNally's 11 points, Harvard owned a 29-20 lead heading into the locker room. Casey had seven rebounds in the opening half and the Crimson shot 10-of-18 (.556) from the floor and was 6-of-6 from the line. Harvard outrebounded Columbia, 18-7, through the first 20 minutes.

After Casey connected on two from the foul line, Curry made a steal at midcourt and found McNally for a layup on the break as Harvard upped its lead to 33-22 with 17:21 remaining in regulation. Wright maneuvered his way around two defenders to hit a layup, as the Crimson went up by 15, its largest lead to that point, 39-24.

With Harvard leading 47-33, Curry split the defense and beat the shot clock with a left-handed layup, making it 49-33 with 8:05 left to go. The Crimson continued to add separation, as Wright grabbed an offensive board and followed with a basket, and he added a long jump shot as Harvard upped the lead to 20, 55-35.

Up next, Harvard will visit Brown and Yale in the final road games of the season Feb. 25-26.