Despite leading by 22 with 12:58 to play in the second half of its league contest against Brown, the Harvard men’s basketball team found itself all tied up at the end of regulation.
And while the Crimson eventually claimed a victory, 89-82, in thrilling fashion at Lavietes Pavilion on Saturday, the double-overtime contest was not Harvard’s first surprising game against the Bears in recent memory. Nor was it the first time co-captain Christian Webster helped spur his team to victory over Brown at home.
The senior converted two three-pointers in overtime, one in each period, including the go-ahead bucket with 4:38 to play in the second extra frame. From there, thanks to one layup apiece from rookie point guard Siyani Chambers and sophomore wing Wesley Saunders along with four free throws, Harvard was at last able to hold its lead, closing the contest with a seven-point advantage.
“It was a little tighter than we’d like it to be, but we were able to pull out the victory,” said Saunders, who finished the game with a team-high 18 points. “Same thing as always, we got out early and let them back into the game.”
On Feb. 12, 2011, the eventual Ivy League co-champion Crimson team found itself down by 22 points against an underdog Bears team that had just two wins after its first eight Ivy contests. But after a second half in which Harvard outscored Brown by a whopping 54-25 margin, the Crimson was back on top, 85-78, by the game’s end.
Webster—who also played an instrumental role in Harvard’s recent comeback victory over Dartmouth—had a team-high 18 points and four treys in the second half of that contest.
“Christian makes some big shots for us all the time,” Saunders said. “He’s just been clutch for us this whole season. We look for him whenever we need a shot, and he’s been able to knock them down.”
GOING, GOING, GON
For the second time in his career, Chambers finished with a double-double Saturday night, contributing an impressive 17 points and 10 assists. But according to Harvard coach Tommy Amaker, the freshman’s defense on Brown guard Sean McGonagill was instrumental to the success of his Crimson squad.
“[Chambers’] defense was the key for us, that he was able to defend McGonagill so many times,” Amaker said. “He is very good and crafty, and for Siyani to stay in front of him as much as he did, to me, was the key to the game.”
Though McGonagill ended the contest with 20 points—including the game-tying bucket with one second remaining in regulation—Chambers and the Crimson kept his Bears’ counterpart out of the action for much of the game.
In the first half, McGonagill, who averages 14.7 points per game, was held to two points until just 5:41 remained in the period, during which time the junior converted a three-pointer and a layup to close out the half. Chambers led his team in scoring during the frame, chipping in 14 points.
McGonagill upped his point total to 20 in the second frame on four-of-six shooting but was unable to convert in the extra session. The guard recorded two assists but was held scoreless during the final 10 minutes of the extended game.
Saturday night’s contest featured an inordinate number of free throw attempts, as the two teams exchanged hacks toward the hectic end of the contest. By the game’s end, the Bears had been whistled 23 times while the Crimson was called for 19 fouls of their own.