Harvard outscored Vermont 44-37 in the second half but was unable to secure a victory.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Wesley Saunders posted a career-high, team-best 21 points, while Siyani Chambers added 16 points and dished out eight assists, but the Harvard men's basketball team fell short in a nationally-televised matchup with Vermont, 85-78, at Lavietes Pavilion Tuesday night. The game aired on NBC SportsNetwork.
Laurent Rivard registered 17 points and grabbed a team-high five rebounds to help Harvard (2-3) win the battle of the boards, 27-23. Sandro Carissimo led all scorers with 25 as Vermont moved to 4-1 on the season.
The teams started quickly on offense, as the game was tied, 6-6, after the first three possessions for each squad. At the 17:18 mark, Kenyatta Smith grabbed an offensive board and was fouled, giving him two shots from the line. Smith made the first, getting Harvard within two, 9-7, and then added a bucket in the paint after another offensive rebound by Rivard. On the Crimson's next possession, Saunders made a nice move in the lane for a basket, giving Harvard an 11-9 lead.
Rivard buried two more fouls shots for the Crimson to give Harvard a four-point edge, 13-12, but Vermont went on a mini-run to grab an 18-13 advantage with just over 13 minutes to play in the half. Chambers snapped the scoreless streak for the Crimson by draining two from the charity stripe, getting Harvard back within three, 18-15. After the Catamounts went up by eight, 23-15, Vermont added another bucket on the break, grabbing a 25-15 lead at the 9:23 mark.
Saunders and Chambers hit baskets to get Harvard within 10, 28-19, but the Catamounts responded with two quick buckets, 33-19. With 4:44 left, Chambers found Christian Webster from a trey from the corner, making it 34-22. Rivard knocked down a triple with 3:27 to go, as Harvard continued to chip away, 34-27. In the final moments of the half, Vermont added two triples to go up, 44-31, but Rivard nailed another 3-pointer to make it 46-34.
At the break, Smith paced the Crimson with nine points, as Harvard shot 11-of-21 (.520) from the field, but UVM made 73 percent of its shot attempts (19-of-26).
Harvard opened the half with a basket on the break by Saunders, 48-36, and then Rivard hit his third 3-pointer before making the foul shot to complete a four-point play, 50-40. With 16:39 left, Saunders headed to the charity stripe again and made the first to make it 52-41, but then followed with a two-handed jam on the next possession getting Harvard back within nine, 52-43.
With just under 16 minutes left, Chambers buried a triple to close the gap to 55-46, and then Saunders connected on another shot from beyond the arc, as Harvard cut the deficit to six, 55-49. Chambers made another triple with 13:25 remaining, making it a three-point game, 55-52, but UVM answered with a bucket to end the Harvard scoring run, 57-52.
Webster connected on a shot from well beyond the arc with 11 minutes to go, as the Crimson cut the deficit further, 59-57. Following an 8-2 run by UVM, making it 67-59, Rivard made a bucket in the paint, keeping Harvard within two possessions, 67-61. With 5:54 to play, Saunders grabbed an offensive board off his own miss and put it back for two points, 69-63, but UVM scored the next four points to go back up by 10.
With UVM leading, 74-65, with just over four minutes left, Rivard stepped up and nailed a long 3-pointer, getting Harvard back within six. Chambers went to the line with 3:18 left with Harvard down by eight, 76-68, and the freshman made both, making it a six-point game again, 76-70. In the final two minutes of play, Saunders was fouled with 1:40 remaining and hit the second free throw, making it 78-73. Harvard stole the ball moments later, and Chambers drew contact and went to the line. Chambers connected on both making it a three-point game, 78-75.
After the Catamounts went back up by six with a trey, 81-75, Webster made one foul shot with 1:08 to play, 81-76, as the Crimson remained within two possessions. The Catamounts went up by seven, 83-76, but Chambers answered with a bucket in the lane as it remained a five-point game with 26.5 ticks left.
Up next, Harvard hosts Fordham Saturday, Dec. 1 at 1 p.m.