Senior center Brian Cusworth, one of six Crimson players in double figures, scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds as Harvard (8-8, 1-1 Ivy) avenged an 80-73 loss in Hanover last Saturday. The win also snapped a four-game losing streak for the home team.
"More than anything, it is just a relief for everybody," Crimson coach Frank Sullivan said. "It's just Ivy League survival, survival at the end of the game-you forget what happened, how it got there, quality points involved, get the win. That is what we did tonight."
Cusworth provided many of those quality points, as he scored 10 in the final seven minutes. Freshman guard Jeremy Lin scored all of his career-high 12 points after halftime, including 10 straight midway through the half to give Harvard a 51-49 lead with 10:06 remaining.
The teams traded baskets after that until junior forward Brad Unger, who had ten points and a career-high seven rebounds, put back sophomore point guard Drew Housman's miss with 5:29 remaining.
Lin added two free throws on the Crimson's next possession, but Big Green sophomore forward Alex Barnett scored two of his career-best 22 points to bring the visitors back within one at 64-63 with 4:49 left.
After Barnett's basket, Cusworth went off on a mini-roll, scoring six straight points with two field goals and two free throws on Harvard's next three offensive possessions. On Dartmouth's three offensive possessions following his scores, the Crimson center rebounded missed three-point attempts. At the end of his run, Harvard held a 70-63 lead with 1:15 left.
The big man shot only 5-of-15 from the floor for the contest and committed a game-high five turnovers, but still turned in his fourth double-double of the season.
"I had an awful game around the rim for the most part," Cusworth said. "I felt like I was hurting us. I have to be thankful to my teammates for having the confidence in me to keep going to me."
His coach agreed.
"He was pressing way too much," Sullivan said. "It wasn't as quality as he might want, but he got another double-double in an Ivy League game and I will take that any day."
The Big Green could not cut it down to a one-possession game in the final minute, despite two Crimson turnovers on inbounds passes following Dartmouth three-pointers. Harvard made 7-of-10 free throws in that time span to cancel out its miscues.
Senior guard Leon Pattman, the Big Green's leading scorer on the season, scored five points in the final minute, but had only 13 for the game, after scoring 27 against the Crimson in Hanover.
Pattman was locked in a tough battle with Harvard captain Jim Goffredo on both ends of the floor.
"It was two first-team, all-league players, two absolutely great players just gutting it out, really battling hard," Cusworth said. "They are both physically exhausted."
Goffredo finished with 12 points, while holding Pattman to 5-of-12 shooting from the floor.
"[Guarding Pattman] was a really big priority for us," Sullivan said. "We went into that first Dartmouth game with Pattman one, two, and three on our priority list. Then he burned us. Tonight, he was number one on our priority list in terms of a team effort. Jimmy is probably as exhausted as he has ever been after any game. I think he challenged him a lot more. We watched a lot of film this week and I think our team did a better job on Leon."
The team's defense was clicking in the opening frame, as the Big Green did not score until 12:53 was left in the half. The Crimson had a 10-0 lead at that time.
Setting the tone for the rest of the night, Dartmouth scored the next 10 points to tie it up.
On offense for the Crimson, Housman and sophomore forward Evan Harris also scored in double figures. Housman had 11, along with a career-high-tying six assists, and Harris scored 10 to go with three steals.
—Staff writer Ted Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.