Men’s Basketball Overpowers MIT in Season Opener, 59-39

McCarthy scored 12 points and dished out three assists in his debut (Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A second-half surge fueled Harvard to a  59-39 win over MIT in its season opener in front of a sellout crowd of 2,195 Friday night at Lavietes Pavilion. Tommy McCarthy paced the offense with a team-high 12 points and three assists in his collegiate debut.

Senior Agunwa Okolie was right behind McCarthy with 10 points, connecting on 4-of-6 from the field. Fellow freshman Corey Johnson was efficient from beyond the arc, netting 3-of-5 attempts for nine points. Senior Evan Cummins and sophomore Chris Egi chipped in with 10 and eight rebounds, respectively, while Cummins swatted three shots to lead the team.

Harvard (1-0) owned a 40-32 advantage on the glass and scored 10 second-chance points off 14 offensive boards. The Crimson also finished the night with seven blocked shots while limiting MIT (0-1) to 30.4 percent (14-46) shooting.

Harvard was plagued by turnovers and fouls early in the first half as MIT took a 9-5 lead. McCarthy ignited an 8-0 Harvard run with an and-one and Okolie followed with a floater in the lane to reclaim Harvard's lead, 10-9. Corbin Miller came off the bench and drained back-to-back shots as the Crimson's bench accounted for seven-straight points to further Harvard's advantage to 17-11.

MIT fought back pulling within 20-19, but Harvard closed the half with five straight points for a 25-19 advantage.

Both teams struggled from the floor in the first half as the Engineers shot 28.0 percent (7-25) while Harvard connected on 31.0 percent (9-29) of its attempts. Corey Johnson hit 2-of-4 from 3-point range to lead the Crimson with six points as Cummins pulled down nine rebounds.

The Engineers once again cut Harvard's deficit to within one possession two minutes into the second half, 26-24, before Harvard got into a groove from the floor. McCarthy scored five-straight points to spark Harvard as it went on a 12-0 run, and Zena Edosomwan, Okolie and Egi accounted for 13-straight points down low to take a 52-28 advantage.

The Crimson offense continued to roll as its defense kept the Engineers in check, holding them to 30.4 percent (7-23) shooting in the second half as Harvard cruised to the 59-39 victory.

Harvard will hit the road to take on Providence tomorrow at 7 p.m. in a game that can be seen live on FOX Sports Network. The Crimson returns to Lavietes Pavillion Nov. 17 to host UMass at 7 p.m. live on NESN National and the Ivy League Digital Network.

Game Notes: Friday's opener was played in front of a sold-out Lavietes Pavilion crowd, Harvard's 30th sell out since 2010-11 … Harvard held MIT to 38 points, the sixth time a Crimson opponent has scored fewer than 40 points under Tommy Amaker, The Thomas G. Stemberg '71 Family Endowed Coach for Harvard Men's Basketball … Harvard's 20-point margin of victory marked the 43rd time that the Crimson has defeated an opponent by at least 20 points under Tommy Amaker, The Thomas G. Stemberg '71 Family Endowed Coach for Harvard Men's Basketball … Harvard improved to 7-2 in season openers under Tommy Amaker, The Thomas G. Stemberg '71 Family Endowed Coach for Harvard Men's Basketball … Evan Cummins grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds … Freshmen Tommy McCarthy and Corey Johnson made their first career starts for Harvard, becoming the first pair of freshmen to start a season opener for the Crimson since Max Kenyi,
Oliver McNally '12 and Keith Wright '12 in 2008 … Freshmen Balsa Dragovic and Weisner Perez also saw the court, representing the first time since 2009 that at least four freshmen played in a season opener; Kyle Casey '13-14, Brandyn Curry '13-14, Dee Giger '13-14 and Christian Webster '13.