SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Harvard men's basketball (9-5) closed out nonconference play with a 70-65 win at Bryant Monday evening. The Crimson was led by 14 points apiece from rookies Chris Lewis and Bryce Aiken. Senior Siyani Chambers and freshman Seth Towns also chipped in 13 points each.
Freshman Justin Bassey paced Harvard in boards for the third-straight game with nine. Harvard shot 40.4 percent from the field, but connected on just 1-of-8 from the three-point line over the final 20 minutes.
Sabastian Townes paced the Bulldogs (5-14) with 17 points, while Bosko Kostur went 4-of-5 from behind the arc to account for 16 points. Ikenna Ndugba posted 13 points, while Adam Grant hit key shots to finish with seven points and eight boards.
The Crimson led by as many as 22 points, but was outscored 32-17 over the final 14 minutes and 22-13 over the final seven.
Harvard found itself trailing early, down 12-7 with 7:26 gone thanks to three early Bulldog triples. The Crimson responded with an 8-0 run, sparked by a 3-pointer from Aiken and capped by Towns with a monster dunk off a drive down the middle. An and-one from Bryant did not slow the Crimson, rattling off the next nine points to hold a nine-point advantage, 24-15, at the 6:39 mark.
Another dunk in traffic from Towns started a 10-3 Crimson rally, putting the visiting team ahead 16, 36-20, just over three minutes later. Harvard kept its distance over the final three minutes, holding a 40-26 lead at the break. For the half, Harvard shot 46.7 percent, including 6-of-13 from behind the arc.
Harvard did not relent coming out of the locker room, scoring the first eight points to push out to a 48-26 advantage with 17:36 to play. The Bulldogs scored seven of the next nine points to pull within 17, 50-33, two minutes later.
Three points from Harvard did not slow Bryant, who scored the next six points and 10 of the next 12 to whittle the Crimson lead to 12, 55-43, with 8:43 to play. Zena Edosomwan corralled a pass from Chambers, empathically slamming the ball home, to stop the Bryant rally. The Bulldogs would not go quietly, hitting three triples to spark an 11-2 run that closed the gap to five, 59-54, with four minutes to play.
Chambers hit a key jumper as the shot clock expired, scoring four-straight points to give the Crimson breathing room, 63-54, with 2:40 left. Grant registered five unanswered and Ndugba hit a three with 32 seconds left, followed by three from the charity stripe 13 seconds later, to pull Bryant within one, 66-65. Chambers and Lewis hit foul shots down the stretch to secure the Crimson win.
The Crimson hosts Dartmouth Saturday, Jan. 21 at 2 p.m. on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Game Notes: The Crimson finishes nonconference play at 8-5, posting a 99-58 record under head coach Tommy Amaker. This marks the ninth-straight season at .500 or better. Bryce Aiken and Seth Towns each posted double-figures for the eighth time this year. Chris Lewis poured in 10-plus for the sixth time this season and fourth over the last five games. Harvard is 8-0 when leading at halftime. Justin Bassey paced the team in rebounding for the third-straight game. The Crimson had balanced scoring with nine players scoring and six scoring five-plus points. Siyani Chambers contributed double-digits for the 64th time in his career (sixth time this year).