NOTEBOOK: Long Drought Ends in Dramatic Fashion

All things must eventually come to an end, good or bad. For the Harvard men’s basketball team, this end was a long time coming.

After suffering seven straight Ivy League losses—including a monumental heartbreaker against Cornell at home last weekend—the Crimson turned the tables on the visiting Tigers and found itself on the winning side of a late-game collapse.

“It’s a monkey off our back,” sophomore Dan McGeary said of the victory. “Its just really refreshing because we’ve been working so hard in practice and especially to win in such a dramatic finish, it’s great.”

The dramatic finish that McGeary alludes to is the epic 15-0 run Harvard went on in the dying minutes of regulation and through an overtime period to give the Crimson its first win since Jan. 8th.


It was turning out to be just another typical performance in a long line of disappointing finishes. Princeton’s Noah Savage had just buried two free throws to put the Tigers up eight with two and a half minutes remaining.

Little did anyone in Lavietes know that a mauling was in the works.

First came an innocent layup from senior captain Brad Unger. A laughably horrendous layup attempt by Princeton’s Marcus Schroeder sprung junior Evan Harris to life. Harris drained a basket to bring the lead within four. Hustling back to the other end to force a turnover, the fortuitous change in luck led to successive layups from underclassmen Kyle Fitzgerald and Jeremy Lin to send the game into overtime.

“We practice overtime periods,” head coach Amaker said. “The confidence they have in those situations was really evident in how they performed.”

Coming out smiling and laughing as the overtime period began, the Crimson transformed into a team rarely seen by the Crazies in Lavietes—a bruising, intimidating squadron. The inside-outside play, highlighted by McGeary’s three-pointer to push the lead out to five and Fitzgerald’s tip-in at the 2:30 mark, symbolized a revitalized squad that had quickly forgotten the misery of last weekend’s events.


Harvard had been routinely pummeled on the inside throughout the season. But on a night where the basketball gods looked down upon the Crimson graciously, big men Brad Unger and Evan Harris became goliaths.

“They couldn’t guard our big guys,” Lin said. “Brad and Evan were just being physical down there, playing as well as I’ve ever seen them play.”

“Princeton isn’t really a big team so we thought we could crash the boards effectively,” Unger said.

And crash the boards they did. The Harvard big men dominated play on the inside, as the team put in 17 second-chance points (Princeton had six) and held the advantage on points scored in the paint (46 to 36).

The duo combined to shoot 13-of-16 for 30 points. Harris also made all four free throws on a night that he shot 83 percent from the floor.

The star combination also got some help from freshman Kyle Fitzgerald. Seeing increased playing time (averaging 11.6 minutes on the year, played 25 against the Tigers), Fitzgerald stepped up his game, getting a clutch offensive board and the put back with 1:04 remaining to bring the Crimson to within two.

“Scrapping and clawing,” Amaker said of his team’s inside play. “Sometimes when you scrap and claw and hustle, you’ll be amazed at how many plays go your way.”


It wasn’t class time but school was certainly in session as Lin put on a clinic at Lavietes.

To go along with his game-tying layup to send the game into overtime, Lin shot 9-of-15 from the floor for a team-high 20 points. He also had seven boards, three assists, two blocks, and two steals for a stellar all-around performance.

After a relatively quiet first half, Lin was the spark that ignited the Crimson’s roaring comeback, scoring six of team’s points during its 15-0 run to end the game.

“I didn’t come out with the energy I should have and that’s obviously my fault,” Lin said. “Coach called us out on it, it was a self-check and as a team we just improved our game.”

Lin played a game high 41 minutes—with only one turnover—and significantly improved upon his season averages of 12.8 points and 30.9 minutes.

“Lin was tremendous for us offensively,” Amaker said.

—Staff writer Mauricio A. Cruz can be reached at