In two of its best defensive games of the season, the Crimson (14-10, 7-5 Ivy) held both opponents under 60 points, and generated over 20 turnovers in each game.
Playing by far his best games of the season, Coleman made key plays in both contests.
With the victories, Harvard clinches a winning season for the second straight year and is assured of at least a .500 Ivy record for the fourth straight year.
Harvard 59, Columbia 56
With the Crimson up by two, Gellert hit one of two free throws to give Harvard a three-point lead. After a Chris Wiedemann bucket pulled Columbia within one, junior gaurd Pat Harvey came through with two clutch free throws to seal the victory.
Neither team was able to take control in the first half, as the Crimson started the game by going inside to Winter and Coleman, opening up a 6-2 lead. However, the Crimson wasn’t able to find more open inside opportunities. Over the next 10 minutes of the first half, the teams traded buckets, with neither team pulling away by more than three points.
After a Craig Austin free throw put Columbia up 22-19, Harvard finally found some open shots. Keyed by a rejuvenated Harvey, the Crimson used a 19-6 run to open up an 11-point halftime lead, 38-27. Harvey scored 11 of his game-high 17 points in the first half.
But, like the Princeton and Yale games, Harvard saw its halftime lead evaporate quickly. Senior guard Treg Duerksen nailed a three-pointer and added another bucket to key a 12-2 Columbia run over the first 7:23 of the second half to pull Columbia within one.
The teams traded field goals, until Duerksen hit another three-pointer to tie the game at 45 with 8:40 left.
“We chose to focus on Austin, thinking it was one of his last games and he’d put more energy into it,” Harvard Coach Frank Sullivan said. “But you get a guy like Duerksen with a very good catch-and-release, and it’s difficult for Pat to defend him.”
Once again, the Crimson dominated on the boards, pulling down over 90 percent of all defensive rebounding opportunities. For the game, Harvard outrebounded the Lions 13-2 on the offensive glass.
“We did not anticipate that kind of defensive rebounding. It was a big break that truly helped us,” Sullivan said.
Harvard’s frontcourt combination of junior forward Sam Winter, Coleman and junior center Brian Sigafoos added 29 points and 18 rebounds. Coleman barely missed his second double-double of the weekend, pulling down 10 points and 9 rebounds.
Perhaps most shocking was the play of Sigafoos, who was able to avoid foul trouble en route to his 10-point performance.
“Brian did a good job defensively and his awareness was very good tonight,” Sullivan said.