Like college finals, snowfall, and shopping frenzies, a Harvard-Dartmouth dogfight in Leede Arena has become an annual winter tradition.
In each of the past few years, a heavily-favored Crimson squad has gone into Hanover and endured a surprisingly gritty effort from the Big Green—who sport an 18-84 record over the last four seasons—before eventually pulling away in the second half and winning by double digits.
In the 2013 edition of the contest, Harvard found itself in such a situation once again. And on this occasion, time was quickly running out.
Just 32 minutes into its conference season, the Crimson’s chances of three-peating as league champion were in jeopardy of taking a major dive, and a stagnant Harvard offense—trailing by three with 7:33 to go—needed to make something happen.
So it turned to the man who has been doing just that all season long, and once again, Siyani Chambers saved the day.
Starting at the top of the key, the freshman crossed over his defender, Dartmouth’s Alex Mitola, and then blew past him. He drew a foul, poured in a layup, and capped the play with a passionate fist pump along the baseline that energized his team.
Chambers’ ensuing free throw tied the game, and Harvard would never trail again, as the point guard sparked the Crimson to a 17-2 run down the stretch that gave it a 75-65 win.
“Typical Ivy League basketball on the road,” Crimson coach Tommy Amaker said. “We really found the energy and the courage to step forward and make a lot of plays that we needed, and I think Siyani was in the middle of it, making things happen.”
Chambers was at his best as the game wound down.
In the contest’s final 2:30, the point guard got to the line and hit both free throws, assisted sophomore forward Steve Moundou-Missi on a dunk with a second remaining on the shot clock, and then hit an open jumper to ice the win.
The freshman finished with six assists and a career-high 22 points, including 16 in the second half, and for his efforts earned his second-consecutive and fourth-overall Ivy League Rookie of the Week honor.
“I was just really anxious to come out here and do what I could [to] help my teammates win in order to get our first victory in the Ivy League,” Chambers said.
By achieving that goal in heroic fashion, the Cousy Award nominee was able to add another impressive item to a rapidly growing resume.
Chambers leads the Ancient Eight with 6.0 assists per game, second-best in the country among rookies. He is also second in the conference in three-point shooting at 50 percent (including a perfect three-for-three on Saturday) and ranks seventh in both points (13.3) and steals (1.5) per game.
But the importance of Chambers’ performance thus far goes far beyond the numbers that have largely surpassed everyone’s expectations.