Following the tradition of down-to-the-wire thrillers, Harvard and Columbia battled their way to an 84-84 tie at the end of regulation time, and in the final seconds of the second overtime period, Harvard's Marshall Sanders sank a 15-foot jumper to lift the Crimson to a 102-100 victory.
The triumph, Harvard's fourth straight, moved it into a tie with Yale, which lost both of its League games last weekend, for fourth place in the Ivy League standings.
The Crimson's overall record moved above the .500 mark for the first time since Christmas vacation to 11-10. It is 4-6 in the Ivies.
Harvard had moved to what looked like a comfortable 47-37 half-time advantage on the strength of Brian Newmark's 17 points and control of the boards. But in the second half, Columbia, which had been working its offensive patterns effectively in the first half, made its patterns pay off.
It cut down on its turnovers (it had 18 in the first half), and midway through the second half tied the Crimson at 64-64. From that point until the end of regulation time, the lead changed hands 20 times, and the game was tied 12 times.
Newmark broke the ice in the first overtime period with a lay-up basket, but the Lions' Ron Boyd, who scored 18 points after the first half, evened the score. Newmark, playing his best game of the season, paced Harvard with 26 points.
James Brown and Jim Fitzsimmons did most of Harvard's scoring for the rest of the game. Brown, who grabbed 20 rebounds in the game to lead all rebounders tallied 20 points on eight-of-15 from the floor. Fitzsimmons kept up his scoring pace with a 23-point performance.
With 26 seconds left in the first overtime period, Harvard took the lead on two Fitzsimmons free throws, but Columbia's Bob Evans, who led all scorers with 28 points, sank two charities to tie the game at 94-94.
In the final overtime period, the lead changed hands three times and was tied three other times before Sanders sank the winning jumper.
The freshman preliminary between Harvard's freshman squad, which is 7-7 on the season, and Merrimack's freshmen was postponed because of the storm.