Harvard is going back to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's basketball team defeated Cornell, 65-56, as the Crimson won the program's third straight Ivy League title and earned a return trip to the NCAA Tournament before a sold out Lavietes Pavilion Saturday afternoon.
Harvard will await the NCAA Selection Show on CBS Sunday March 17 at 6 p.m. The Crimson will learn its opponent and destination during the hour-long show.
Laurent Rivard led the Crimson in scoring with 17 points, while Siyani Chambers added 16 points and five assists. Wesley Saunders scored in double figures for the 28th straight game with 14 points, as Harvard completes the regular season 19-9 overall and 11-3 in the Ivy League. Rivard tied the program's single-season 3-pointer record, draining his 74th of the season, knotting Kevin Rogus '05 (2003-04).
Miles Asafo-Adjei paced Cornell (13-18, 5-9 Ivy) with 15 points, sinking 6-of-8 baskets. Harvard made 9-of-15 (.600) treys in the game and made 18-of-27 (.667) free throws.
Rivard opened the scoring with a triple from the corner, plus a foul, 3-0, and then Smith added a bucket, as the Crimson went up, 5-0. Smith hit a layup as Harvard led, 10-7, but Cornell knotted it up, 11-11, with just over 12 minutes remaining in the frame. Christian Webster nailed a 3-pointer to make it 14-11, and then Wesley Saunders connected on a jumper to the left of the paint, 16-11.
Rivard drained another triple, 19-13, but again the Big Red tied the score, 19-19. After Siyani Chambers made a long jump shot, 21-19, Saunders connected on a bucket to give Harvard a four-point edge. Cornell came back to tie the game again, 23-23, but Steve Moundou-Missi headed to the line and hit both, 25-23, with just under four minutes left in the first. Saunders found Moundou-Missi for a reverse layup under the hoop, 27-23, and then Rivard made his third trey, 30-23.
In the final seconds of the half, Chambers hit an acrobatic layup to make it a 32-24 contest at the break. Rivard paced Harvard with nine points in the first, as Harvard went 4-of-8 (.500) from beyond the arc.
In the second, Chambers connected on a trey, as Harvard went up by 10, 36-26, and then Saunders went to the charity stripe and made both, 38-26. With 14:30 to go, Chambers drained another triple, 41-28, and then Webster made another shot from beyond the arc, 44-32.
Moments later, Chambers sent a bounce pass to Moundou-Missi , who finished with a nice move under the basket, 46-32. Chambers continued to shoot well, making another one, 49-34, with just over 10 minutes remaining. Less than a minute later, Rivard tied the Harvard single-season 3-pointer record with his 74th of the season, making it 52-38.
With 7:38 to go, Saunders drew contact going up for a shot and hit both, as Harvard maintained a 14-point advantage, 56-42. After Cornell cut the Crimson lead to seven, 57-50, but Rivard headed to the line and made two free throws after being fouled shooting a jumper. With Harvard leading, 59-54, Saunders went to the charity stripe again and connected on both, making it a seven-point game.
Rivard and Chambers would combine to hit 6-of-8 free throws at the line in the final 46 seconds to ice the game away and give the Crimson its third straight conference title; however, it wasn't until about 45 minutes after the buzzer sounded in Cambridge that Harvard booked its return to the NCAA Tournament, as Brown defeated Princeton to give Harvard sole possession of the Ivy League crown.