ACADEMIC INTEGRATION COMPETITIVE EXCELLENCE

IN DIVISION I ATHLETICS

 

Saunders, Moundou-Missi Lead Men's Basketball to 86-68 Win Over Bryant

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Saunders scored a season-high 25 points to help keep the Crimson perfect (Steve Babineau).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Wesley Saunders scored 25 points while Steve Moundou-Missi added a career-high 23 as the Harvard men's basketball team defeated Bryant Wednesday night at Lavietes Pavilion, 86-68.

Harvard improves to 4-0 for the second time under head coach Tommy Amaker and the first time since beginning 8-0 in 2011-12. The victory was also the Crimson's 14th straight at home.

Saunders, who added five assists and three steals to his stat line, was an efficient 7-of-9 from the floor and hit 10-of-11 attempts at the line. Moundou-Missi, meanwhile, shot 10-of-15 to go with a game-high nine rebounds and four blocks.

The duo was complimented by Kyle Casey's 14 points as the Crimson combined to shoot 57.1 percent (32-56) from the field, including a 16-of-26 performance (62%) in the second half. Siyani Chambers, who scored nine points himself, finished the night with a season-high eight assists.

Bryant (2-2) was led by Alex Francis who contributed 17 points while Dyami Starks, the NCAA's leading scorer entering the game, was limited to 11.

Both teams displayed great energy to start the game as they chased each other up and down the court. The Crimson went on top first with free throws from Wesley Saunders and Kyle Casey, before a transition layup by Francis put Bryant in front, 9-8. A quick 6-0 run coming out of the first timeout put Harvard back on top, 16-11, with Moundou-Missi scoring four of the points on a layup and dunk. Moundou-Missi added a second dunk moments later, making it an 18-13 game with more than 12-minutes to play.

The Bulldogs closed to within one, 18-17, but Harvard responded with a Casey dunk and free throws from Laurent Rivard to maintain the lead. Moundou-Missi pushed the score to 25-17 as he continued to control the paint, and Saunders' three-pointer with 5:37 remaining made it a 31-22 game. Harvard took its first double-digit lead with Jonah Travis at the line, 25-35, and a strong finish by Casey gave the Crimson a 41-29 edge.

Harvard went into the break leading 43-34 behind 12 points from Moundou-Missi, 11 from Saunders and 10 from Casey.

The trio continued its strong play after the break as it combined to score each of the Crimson's first nine points. Arguably the play of the night came as Casey went straight up to block a breakaway dunk attempt by Francis, which led to a Saunders layup at the other end, 50-38. A quick 5-0 spurt by the Bulldogs forced Harvard to call timeout, but buckets by Rivard and Casey coming out of the stoppage put the margin back at 58-46.

A Rivard three-pointer made it a 61-46 game before Bryant charged back with a 9-2 stretch to make it 63-55 with under 10-minutes to play. Moundou-Missi helped to put an end to the run as he came away with a big block at one end and a driving layup at the other for a 67-55 edge. The junior added seven more points to move the score to 76-57, and after a Saunders and-one the margin stood at 22 points, 79-57.

Game Notes: Harvard improves to 4-0 for the second time under head coach Tommy Amaker, and the first since beginning 8-0 in 2011-12 … Harvard has won 14 straight games in Lavietes Pavilion dating back to last season … Steve Moundou-Missi scored a career-high 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting … Steve Moundou-Missi (23 pts.) and Wesley Saunders (25 pts.) each scored 20-plus points, marking the first time Harvard has had two 20-point scorers since Saunders (23 pts.) and Kenyatta Smith (20 pts.) did so Feb. 15, 2013 vs. Penn … Harvard registered a season-high 11 blocks, the first time it has gone over 10 blocks since Feb. 15, 2013 at Penn.