NEW YORK, N.Y.—Junior Kyle Casey had 19 points and co-captain Keith Wright added 16 points and eight rebounds, helping Harvard escape a sold-out Levien Gymnasium with a 77-70 overtime victory over Columbia Friday evening.
“I think our league is sensational, and I think this is another example of that,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “What an effort by our team, to find a way [to win].”
The victory helped the first-place Crimson (25-4, 11-2 Ivy) stay a half-game ahead of Penn, which took down Brown, 54-43.
Led by guard Brian Barbour’s game-high 23 points and five assists, the Lions (14-15, 3-10) again nearly pulled off an upset in front of a crowd of 2,702 that included New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin ’10 and Spike Lee on Friday.
After trailing by six points with 4:16 remaining, Columbia tied the game at 62 on a Barbour finger-roll layup with 33 seconds left.
“He’s so crafty and slithery and makes plays,” Amaker said. “We have a number of guards in our league that are very difficult to handle off the dribble, especially that way we play in terms of wanting to play man-to-man. It’s challenging, it’s difficult, and we did the best we could.”
Harvard held the ball for the final shot of regulation, but co-captain Oliver McNally missed a three-pointer from the right wing to send the game to an extra period.
“We had the last shot, we had a great shot by our senior—a wide-open three—and I’ll take that every day of the week and twice on Sunday,” Amaker said.
“[We were] playing with fire—they had McNally, [sophomore wing Laurent] Rivard, and [freshman Corbin] Miller out there,” said Columbia coach Kyle Smith of his decision to implement a zone defense on the play. “I was like, ‘You know what, we haven’t been able to guard them in man, so what the heck.’”
Casey opened overtime with a short jumper, and both squads went scoreless for the next two and a half minutes until Rivard sank a left-wing three to make it 67-62 with 1:55 left.
The Lions responded with a jumper from the right side by center Mark Cisco, who was the team’s second-leading scorer with 12 points and five rebounds.
But Casey drained another three from the right wing on a kick-out pass from junior guard Brandyn Curry, extending the Harvard lead to 70-64.
Following a Barbour free throw, Columbia then missed its next three field goals, and McNally went seven of eight from the free throw line to seal the Crimson’s program-record 25th victory of the season.
Its latest win appeared to be in jeopardy for much of the second half, during which Barbour had 14 points.
A baseline jumper by Cisco capped a 7-0 run that gave the Lions a 41-40 lead with 15:27 remaining.