Tourney talk: Harvard takes big step toward NCAAs by beating Princeton
|03.05.11 at 10:01 pm ET|
Harvard clinched a share of the Ivy League title with Saturday night’s 79-67 victory over Princeton. However, the Crimson (23-5, 12-2 Ivy) still need Princeton (23-6, 11-2) to lose another game — be it Tuesday at Penn or in a one-game playoff with Harvard — before an NCAA tournament berth is guaranteed.
That didn’t stop the celebration at Harvard, as fans stormed the court to revel in the program’s first-ever league title.
“I’m thrilled and incredibly proud for this moment,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said.
A number of former Harvard players — including current Golden State Warriors guard Jeremy Lin, the star of last year’s Crimson — attended the game, while other sent messages of support to the team.
“We’re not doing it just for us, we’re doing it for them,” said guard Brandyn Curry, who had 10 points and 10 assists.
Kyle Casey (Medway/Brimmer & May) led the Crimson effort with 24 points before fouling out with 1:36 remaining. He had the play of the night, a monstrous dunk off a baseline drive while being fouled with 16:48 remaining that sent the sold-out crowd into a frenzy.
“I tried to tear the rim off,” he explained. “It was pretty successful.”
Added Curry: “That was a SportsCenter top 10 for sure.”
Just like the last time these teams met — a 65-61 Princeton victory on Feb. 4 — Harvard led by a point at the half. And just like last time, a player was fouled shooting a 3-pointer just before the break. Harvard freshman Laurent Rivard, who last time was the one who committed the bad foul, this time was the beneficiary. His three free throws with one second left gave the Crimson a 37-36 advantage.
Curry acknowledged that a teammate noted the irony in the locker room. Whether or not it was a sign of a turnaround, Harvard managed to avoid a mid-game slump this time, instead taking control coming out of the locker room, building the lead up to 10 seven minutes into Period 2, with a driving layup from Curry putting the lead in double digits.
Keith Wright had 13 points and six huge blocks for the Crimson.
Princeton’s Dan Mavraides led all scorers with 25 points, but he was left to sit and watch from the bench with his teammates as Harvard players and fans celebrated at midcourt.
Princeton coach Sydney Johnson had the Tigers stay and watch the party. Perhaps he was giving them some ammunition should the teams meet again in a playoff.
“I think it’s important to understand what’s at stake,” Johnson said. “I think it’s important to see people celebrate.”