Okolie scored 10 straight points to close out the victory and finish with a career-high 29 points (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Agunwa Okolie scored 29 points and Patrick Steeves added 20 as the Harvard men's basketball team opened Ivy League play with a 77-70 win over Dartmouth on Saturday in front of a sold-out Lavietes Pavilion crowd.
Okolie scored 14 of Harvard's final 18 points, including all 10 in the final 2:14 to seal the win. The senior finished the afternoon shooting 9-of-11 from the floor and a perfect 10-of-10 at the line, adding six rebounds to his stat line. Steeves, meanwhile, connected on 4-of-5 from 3-point range to go with five rebounds and three assists.
The Crimson combined to shoot 52.8 percent (28-53) on the day and went 6-of-12 from beyond-the-arc. Dartmouth (4-9, 0-1 Ivy League) kept pace with eight 3-pointers and a 12-of-16 performance at the line. Miles Wright was one of three members of the Big Green in double-digits with 23 points as Evan Boudreaux added 21 points and 10 rebounds.
It will be a quick turnaround for Harvard as it returns to its home floor Tuesday, Jan. 12 to host Ryerson at 7 p.m. live on the Ivy League Digital Network.
The teams traded blows early and went into the first media timeout tied at 6-apiece. Consecutive dunks by Wright gave Dartmouth its first lead, 10-8, and the sophomore added a 3-pointer to put the score at 13-10. Steeves responded right away for Harvard, burying a corner triple to even the score again, 13-13.
Dartmouth began to create separation midway through as Brandon McDonnell's slam made it a 22-17 game. Following a second 3 from Wright and free throws from Kevin Crescenzi, the score stood at 29-20 with 5:40 to play. Harvard closed the half on an 8-0 run, however, and tied the game back up at 36-36 as Corey Johnson beat the buzzer from distance.
Steeves had matched his career-high by the half with 13 points, including 3-of-3 from beyond-the-arc, as Okolie added 11 points and five rebounds. The Crimson shot an even 50.0 percent (14-28) from the field and 4-of-6 from 3, with the Big Green shooting 46.7 percent (14-30) overall and 4-of-8 from range.
Harvard stayed hot out of the break, using a Cummins slam and Tommy McCarthy drive for a 42-38 edge. Steeves hit his fourth-consecutive 3-pointer to make it a 15-0 run and move the score to 45-38, but Dartmouth bounced back with an 8-1 stretch to tie the game at 46-all on a jumper from McDonnell.
Crescenzi put the Big Green back in front at the free throw line, 50-48, but he was matched at the other end by an Okolie jumper. The back-and-forth continued over the next eight-plus minutes, with neither team taking more than a three-point lead.
Harvard held on to a 63-62 margin before Cummins found Steeves down low for an and-1 to move the score to 66-62 with 3:06 remaining. Steeves hit 1-of-2 at the line on the team's next trip down the court, and Okolie converted an and-1 of his own to put the score at 70-62.
Dartmouth refused to go quietly, however, cutting it to 70-67 on another Wright 3. Okolie and Boudreaux exchanged triples to keep the margin at 3 points, 73-70, with less than 1 minute to play, but Okolie went 4-of-4 at the line to give the Crimson the needed edge, 77-70.
Game Notes: Harvard is 9-0 in Ivy League openers under Tommy Amaker … The game was played in front of a sold-out crowd, Harvard's third sell out of the season and 32nd since 2010-11 … Agunwa Okolie scored a career-high 29 points and led the team in scoring for just the second time in his career … Patrick Steeves scored a career-high 20 points and had matched his previous career-best of 13 by halftime … This marks the first time Harvard has had two student-athletes score at least 20 points since Feb. 14, 2014 at Columbia (Siyani Chambers 22, Steve Moundou-Missi 22) … Harvard has made at least five 3-pointer in 18 consecutive games dating back to last season … Corey Johnson has made at least one 3-pointer in all 15 games to begin his career … Zena Edosomwan set a new career-high with six assists.