HANOVER, N.H.—“Let’s Go!” Siyani Chambers’ exclamation was audible over the crowd of 997 gathered at Dartmouth’s Leede Arena for the Big Green’s Ivy opener against the Harvard men’s basketball team.
The rookie point guard had reason to be excited. After all, he had just kept the Crimson (9-5, 1-0 Ivy) from suffering its worst loss of the season in his first-ever conference matchup.
With underdog Dartmouth (3-11, 0-1) leading by five with 8:43 to play, Chambers added nine points, two assists, and two rebounds in the final 7:33, fueling a 17-2 game-ending run that put Harvard on top, 75-65, at the final buzzer.
“What an effort, I thought, by Siyani,” said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker of the rookie, who finished with a career-high 22 points and six assists—both game highs,
While Chambers got it done offensively, the entire Crimson lineup chipped in defensively down the stretch. After starting the second half shooting 9 of 18 from the field, the Big Green closed the contest 0 of 8—its lone points coming off two Jvonte Brooks free throws.
“I thought we dug in,” Amaker said. “We did a tremendous job of playing our D without fouling. That was key.”
The Crimson also got it done on the glass. After surrendering 11 offensive rebounds over the first 31:17—which turned into 19 second-chance points for the Big Green—Harvard gave up just one down the stretch.
Perhaps overshadowed by Chambers’ late-game prowess was the play of sophomore Wesley Saunders. The wing finished with 19 points on eight-of-nine shooting and matched Chambers with six assists. Saunders has scored in double-figures every game this season.
Sophomore forward Steve Moundou-Missi contributed a season-high 15 points off the bench, and junior co-captain Laurent Rivard added 12 points, all of which came in the opening frame.
Dartmouth boasted balanced scoring with seven players finishing with at least two baskets. Rookies Alex Mitola and Connor Boehm led the way with 11 points apiece.
“Dartmouth is a team that we think is better than their record indicates,” Amaker said. “They’re always going to play people very, very tough, especially [at home].”
Riding the hot shooting of Rivard and the play of Moundou-Missi, the Crimson jumped out to an early lead.
Moundou-Missi came off the bench with 15:26 remaining and immediately made his presence felt, scoring five baskets in a five-minute stretch. His final basket of the half put the Crimson up 10, 25-15, with 10:43 to go. The Crimson took its largest lead of the period, 34-20, with 8:28 to go after Chambers knocked down a three-pointer.
But it was all Dartmouth from there, as the Big Green—fueled by forward Gabas Maldunas’s four baskets—closed the frame on a 23-8 run and went into the break up one, 43-42.
“We had a stretch where we didn’t play up to our standards,” Chambers said. “We can’t have those stretches.”
Trio of Bigs will be Key Against New MexicoThe evolution of sophomore forwards Jonah Travis, Kenyatta Smith and Steve Mondou-Missi—who all averaged fewer than 14 minutes per game as freshmen—has been key to the Crimson’s late-season success. Though the three have developed distinct roles and identities, their playing time has been inexorably linked to each other’s success in a lineup that tends to employ four perimeter players, leaving space for one inside presence.