The 1,636 fans who packed Lavietes Pavilion on Sunday afternoon certainly got their money’s worth.
In an enthralling, heart-pounding clash between the Harvard men’s basketball team and the University of Massachusetts, sophomore guard Bryce Aiken nailed a three-point dagger in the waning seconds of overtime to give the Crimson (2-0) a 70-67 victory.
That shot has since been plastered all over social media, earning over 170 Twitter retweets and being featured on the official NCAA March Madness Twitter feed.
Aiken, already prominent around the circles of Cambridge, may have in that moment earned a bit of national recognition.
BRYCE WITH ICE IN HIS VEINS
At the preseason media day conference, Harvard coach Tommy Amaker unequivocally pronounced Aiken as the team’s best basketball player.
Despite a relatively inconsistent afternoon from the field, the Harvard point guard justified in crunch time exactly why Amaker made such a bold statement.
Aiken, who finished with a career-high 30 points and eight rebounds, was responsible for the last four points in regulation as well as eight of the Crimson’s 12 overtime points.
Going back and forth with Luwane Pipkins, the star sophomore point guard for the Minutemen (1-1), Aiken displayed his speed and versatility, breaking through the UMass defense for easy drives to the paint while showing prowess from the perimeter. A crucial step-back jumper from the left baseline with 3:47 to go in overtime allowed Harvard to jump out for a quick four-point lead, building momentum that the Crimson would extend to the end of the contest.
“Just playing together and having my teammates trust in me and me trusting them as well,”
Aiken said. “We have a lot of goals to accomplish and we are working toward that each and every day.”
Then came the three.
Holding on to a 67-64 lead with 17 seconds remaining, Harvard needed just one stop. Both teams knew the ball would be in the hands of Pipkins.
UMass’ leading scorer, who finished with 23 points on three-of-five shooting from three-point range, once again calmly sank the overtime bucket, tying the game at 67.