NEW HAVEN, C.T.—With his team down by one point with 26 seconds to play, Harvard men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker wanted two things: for the Crimson to hold for the last shot and for sophomore playmaker Brandyn Curry to attack the basket.
Harvard did as its coach asked. After waiting until just a few ticks remained on the clock, Curry drove hard to the paint and floated a shot at the basket.
But his last-second attempt rolled off the rim, and a stunned Crimson squad walked off the court at Yale’s John J. Lee Amphitheater in disbelief.
“Certainly a gut-wrenching loss” Amaker said. “Curry certainly did a heck of job getting that ball up there and giving it a shot to drop in but it didn’t crawl in for us....Exactly what we wanted was right there, and we just didn’t make the shot.”
Led by sophomore Austin Morgan’s 14 second-half points, the Bulldogs (14-12, 7-5 Ivy) battled back from a late deficit to hand the Crimson (21-5, 10-2) a 70-69 defeat on Saturday night.
The loss, which came one week after Harvard moved into first place in the Ivy League standings, dropped the Crimson one game behind Princeton in the loss column heading into the final weekend of conference play.
Harvard, which led by six points with 7:22 to play, failed to come up with stops down the stretch, ultimately leading to the Crimson’s demise.
Yale scored on its final four possessions while stopping Harvard on its last possession to secure the victory.
“[On the final possession], we did a pretty good job of pressing up, and then the ball got into a couple of guys’ hands that I don’t think were really ready to try to make a play,” Yale coach James Jones said. “And we were fortunate that their last shot fell a little short.”
Morgan sparked the Yale comeback, knocking down a three-pointer from the top of the key—his fourth of the half—to pull the Bulldogs within one with five minutes to play.
Sophomore Christian Webster—who finished with a game-high 22 points—kept the Crimson’s lead at three with a pair of free throws and a backdoor layup.
But a layup from Reggie Willhite and two free throws from Porter Braswell knotted the score at 66.
With 1:28 to play, Yale took its first lead in more than 10 minutes after Willhite blew past the Crimson defense and banked in a layup off the glass.
Webster answered, pulling up from the left elbow and sinking a high-arching shot, despite being fouled. Webster knocked down the free throw, putting the visitors ahead by one with 55 seconds to play.
On the ensuing possession, Willhite lobbed the ball into forward Jeremiah Kreisberg on the left block. Kreisberg finished the play, giving Yale the one-point edge. On the other end, the Crimson swung the ball to freshman Laurent Rivard near the top of the key, but the rookie’s shot was off its mark. With 30 seconds to play junior co-captain Keith Wright pulled down the offensive rebound, and Amaker signaled for a timeout.