Michigan State slammed down four dunks, rolled in four layups, and tallied one tip-shot in the first twenty minutes, an indication of its dominance in the paint. While the Spartan outscored the Crimson in the key, 24-14, in the first half, Harvard limited its opponents to only 10 points in the key in the final period.
“[At halftime] we talked about how we were better than [our first half performance],” Amaker added. “As good as they are, we were still better than what we played in the first 20 minutes. And it was important for us to remember who we were and who we have been all year.”
As has been true all season, it was a balanced effort for the Spartans on Saturday night. Dawson led the way in scoring with 26, but Harris wasn’t far behind with 18. After a monster performance from Payne in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Delaware—the senior tallied 41 points, going a perfect 17-of-17 from the line—he managed only 12 points against the Harvard defense, shooting at a 40 percent clip from the floor.
Along with Saunders’ 22 points, the Crimson had three other players hit double figures—Curry, Moundou-Missi, and Chambers scored 12, 11, and 10, respectively. Each were on the floor during the Harvard run that turned a blow-out into a nailbiter.
“We just came out and fought our hardest, and that’s really all you can ask for sometimes, no matter what the scoreboard says,” Saunders said. “I think that we showed some people that we have the heart of a champion out here.”
—Staff writer Juliet Spies-Gans can be reached at Juliet.firstname.lastname@example.org.