“I thought that group in particular really gave us the effort that we needed,” Amaker said. “We spaced the floor a lot better being smaller…. [W]e wanted to stay with that group. That group was the group that obviously got us back into it and made the run, and we were hoping that that group [was] going to be able to bring it home for us.”
Early on, this third-round matchup seemed like it would end in a blowout. The Spartans was playing faster, stronger, and bigger in the opening minutes, and Harvard was to keep up with the pace.
Eight of the nine Spartan players that took the floor in the first period scored, while junior guard Branden Dawson led the fourth-seeded squad with 20 points in the first half. Harvard was kept in the game thanks to Saunders’ efficiency. Saunders broke the 1000-point mark of his collegiate career in the opening half, and ended the game with a team-high 22 points, going 10-of-10 from the charity stripe.
Much of Michigan’s offense came off of fast breaks, and its fast-paced attack started early and came often.
Off of Moundou-Missi’s missed shot less than a minute into the game, Dawson grabbed the board and started down the court. The junior found a streaking Valentine, whose runner at the second hashmark was good—2-0, Spartans.
On the following Harvard possession, senior forward Kyle Casey threw an errant pass, which was intercepted by Harris. The Spartan streaked a pass to Dawson, who elevated for an easy dunk.
“I felt like, [in] the first half, that just wasn’t us out there,” Curry said. “We felt like so far in that game, we hadn’t really challenged them. It was kind of easy for them with all the shots and layups they were getting.”