Four-point game, 12-point swing, and a shift in momentum so large that a previously near-silent Crimson fan section began chanting “I believe.”
“[A]t halftime I told the guys that we just need to fight,” Curry said. “[W]e just rallied together…. [We wanted to] put game-type pressure on them…. We wanted to really challenge them.”
The crowd only got louder. A Payne missed three on the other end led to a Moundou-Missi transition tip-in 13 seconds later, and a charge on Harris gave the rock to the underdogs once more.
After a sequence of passes in which every Harvard player on the floor touched the ball, Moundou-Missi misfired on a layup attempt, and Michigan State sophomore forward Matt Costello cleaned up the glass. The Spartan’s attempt to get rid of the ball was intercepted by Saunders, who went straight to the paint and completed the two-handed flush.
Fifty-five all. Michigan State’s surefire bid to the Sweet Sixteen was suddenly a little more tenuous.
Two minutes later, a trademark corner three from Crimson co-captain Laurent Rivard gave the squad its first lead of the night, 62-60.
However, the Spartans responded with treys of their own. Harris and Denzel both drilled shots from beyond the arc, and a multitude of Michigan State players knocked down free throws in the waning moments to clinch the victory, 80-73, for the favorites.
Harvard coach Tommy Amaker attributed much of Harvard’s 22-6 run to the smaller lineup that took the floor, a combination of players that enabled the squad to play a four-out offense. Only junior forward Steve Moundou-Missi set up camp down low, while the four other Crimson players spaced out around the three-point arc.