Okay, okay--old Tiffany lyrics might seem cheesy, but it was hard not to feel sentimental last night at Briggs Cage when the Harvard men's basketball team defeated Cornell, 80-63.
The Crimson (5-20 overall, 3-10 Ivy) snapped its seven-game losing streak and beat the Big Red (9-16, 4-9) for the first time in three years with a gutsy second-half performance led by sophomores Kyle Snowden (18 points, seven rebounds, three assists) and David Demian (16 points, six rebounds).
Harvard's win was only its second in its last 19 tries.
"We played really well and kept our poise at some times that we haven't in the past," coach Frank Sullivan said. "We were the aggressor tonight."
Harvard seemed ready to take control of the game midway through the first half, when it spurted out to a 28-22 lead. Cornell closed the period with an 11-5 run, however, to tie the game heading into intermission.
"The thing that was disturbing [about the first half] was their three point shooting...and their rebounding," Sullivan said. "We talked to the guys about slowing them down a little and making them run their half-court offense."
Harvard shifted defenses several times in the second half, moving between man-to-man and a 1-3-1 zone, and the result was markedly worse shooting by Cornell.
After sinking 48 percent of its field goal attempts in the first half, including four treys, the Big Red sank to 40 percent in the second half, with only one long-distance bomb.
Harvard, meanwhile, started getting better penetration inside and sank 56 percent of its second-half attempts.
Junior Mike Gilmore, who finished with 10 points and three rebounds, ignited the decisive run with a baseline move that produced a powerful dunk in traffic.
"Mike's move really got us pumped up, and I think we used the momentum from that for the rest of the game," captain Jared Leake said. "I think the enthusiasm became contagious [in the second half]. People were playing aggressively and hard."
Cornell, in its losing effort, received 15 points each from Brandt Schuckman, Troy Torbert and Brian Kopf.
Harvard can look ahead now to its final game of the season, which will be played tonight at Briggs Cage against the Columbia Lions. Although the season has clearly been hard on both players and coaches, a win would make the offseason considerably more bearable.
"I told the dudes, `We've got to start a winning tradition now,'" Leake said. "Not later, but now. We've got to live in the present and do as best we can in these last couple of games."
"It's been a tough season for our guys, but to see this kind of effort on the last weekend is a great testimony to the quality of our team."
HARVARD, 80-63 at Briggs Cage Cornell 33 30 -- 63 Harvard 33 47 -- 80
LEHIGH: Hickes 1-2 202 4; Standard 0-3 5-5 5; Wendt 0-2 0-0 0; Shuckman 5-11 2-2 15; Vaughn 0-1 0-0 0; Escarzega 0-1 0-1 2; Buettenback 1-3 2-4 5; Kopf 5-9 4-8 15; Davis 0-0 0-0 0; Samuel 2-8 0-0 4; Torbert 7-8 0-0 15; Ellens 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 11-23 10-25 63.
HARVARD: Demian 4-11 6-6 16; Leake 2-2 5-7 9; Gilmore 3-11 3-6 10; Morris 2-3 2-2 6; M. Scott 0-1 0-0 0; Snowden 7-12 4-6 18; Grancio 4-7 0-3 8; Fisher 2-7 5-6 9; White 1-2 2-4 4. TOTALS: 11-31 14-25 80.