HANOVER, N.H.—The starters never got started Saturday night when the No. 24 Harvard men’s basketball team extended its winning streak to four games, topping Dartmouth, 54-38, for the second time in as many weeks.
Before Harvard could score, all five starters missed a shot, and three missed multiple times, before Keith Wright finally registered Harvard’s first points nearly six minutes into the game.
Then the backups came in. Junior Christian Webster and freshmen Steve Moundou-Missi and Corbin Miller led the squad on a 16-4 run to grab an 18-10 lead.
Webster finished with eight big points after missing the previous two contests with a hip injury. While recovering, Webster watched his backup, sophomore Laurent Rivard, shoot 50 percent from behind the arc and register back-to-back 16-point outings. Saturday, Rivard was two of seven from deep, netting only eight points.
After missing three games with a strained ligament in his left thumb, Miller made a three to give Harvard its first lead at 13-10 and finished with a team-high 13 points in 17 minutes of action.
“Corbin Miller, his three-point shots and offensive efficiency was much needed. Our bench production was terrific,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said.
Coming off his best career performance, Moundou-Missi stayed hot. A week ago, he was seven of seven from the field and led the team with 16 points. In his second straight strong performance, Moundou-Missi tallied nine points and was equally solid on the defensive end, recording three steals and two blocks, both career highs.
“For a kid like Moundou-Missi to play as well as he did—his confidence is there,” Amaker said. “That’s a tremendous lift for us.”
STINGY D THE KEY
Moundou-Missi turned in a strong individual performance on the defensive end, and Harvard held the Big Green to a season-low 38 points thanks to cohesive team play.
“Harvard completely took us out of our offensive sets,” Dartmouth coach Paul Cormier said. “We, at times, looked…inept. That’s a real credit to Harvard. That’s why they are good.”
A key to the Crimson’s defensive success was its ability to slow down the Big Green’s leading scorer, freshman forward Gabas Maldunas.
In the first matchup between the two Ivy rivals, Maldunas led his team with 15 points.
This time around, the Lithuanian scored only six points, and none in the second half. Maldunas was forced to settle for jumpers from the outside and committed five turnovers in the rematch.
“He’s a crafty player,” Amaker said. “We certainly had a point of emphasis on trying to make sure we contain him.”