For the opening spurt of its game against Cornell (2-23, 1-10 Ivy), the Harvard men’s basketball team (23-4, 10-1) played like the last—not first—place team. Four and a half minutes in, a layup by Cornell freshman Darryl Smith put the visitors up 4-0. To that point, the Crimson had two turnovers and five missed shots.
But Harvard quickly restored order—in the next 15 minutes, it would miss just five more times. The Crimson scored on three of its next four trips down the court to take a 7-6 lead with 12 minutes to go in the half.
And once Harvard had found its form, it didn’t lose it again, eventually coming away with a 72-47 victory. The Crimson scored 23 of the next 24 points coming out of the under-12 minute media timeout, taking a 16-point lead into halftime.
For the game, it finished 51 percent from the field, 44 percent from three, and 86 percent from the line—excellent marks on par with those of NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant’s season-long 51-40-88 shooting splits.
“We were efficient on the offensive end, how we shot the ball, how we moved it,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said.
The Big Red cut the lead to 11 four minutes into the second half, but Harvard responded with another run. The Crimson scored eight straight and pushed its lead to 20 with nine minutes to go.
Nine different Harvard players logged double-digit minutes and 10 had a basket as the Crimson dominated on both ends, holding Cornell to 39 percent shooting from the field.
“I thought our defense was outstanding throughout, especially in the first half,” Amaker said. “There [were] a lot of positive things for our group.”
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
At the start of the game, Amaker continued an annual Senior Night tradition, starting all his seniors. He started seniors Kyle Casey and Dee Giger and co-captains Laurent Rivard and Brandyn Curry alongside sophomore point guard Siyani Chambers. It was the first time the five had ever seen the court together.
The early returns were less than impressive.
Although the unit excelled on the defensive end, holding Cornell to just one fast-break layup, it struggled to score. In four minutes, Harvard missed all five shots it took from the floor.
“They knew that we were going to start our seniors, and I don’t know it that played a role with Dee and Brandyn being out there for that moment,” Amaker said. “Those things happen.”
It wasn’t until junior Wesley Saunders replaced Giger that the offense got going. On his second play, Saunders dished to Chambers for a three-pointer to bring Harvard within one. By the time that Saunders left the court, 13 minutes later, Harvard had taken a 30-13 advantage.
The large graduating class—if not for an injured Tom Hamel, Amaker would have had an entire starting senior unit—was a 180 degree change from last year, where now-assistant coach Christian Webster ’13 was the only graduate honored.