In 15 of its 22 games so far, the Harvard men’s basketball team has scored at least 63 points, averaging 65.7 points per game. But Columbia stalled the Crimson offense Saturday night, as Harvard failed to find its scoring stroke, finishing with its second lowest point total of the Ivy season so far.
Although the Lions held Harvard to just three more points than the 54 the Crimson scored in its defensive battle against Dartmouth on Jan. 21, Harvard was never really threatened by the Columbia offense, taking down the Lions, 57-52, at Lavietes Pavilion.
Junior point guard Brandyn Curry started off the scoring with a three pointer 34 seconds into the first half, and Harvard never gave up its early lead. Although Columbia tied it up three times—at three, five, and 16 points—the Crimson was able to close out its sixth conference win of the season, adding to the program’s best start of all time and securing its third straight 20-win season.
Harvard also improved upon the longest home winning streak in program history, pushing the mark to 25 consecutive wins, good for the fourth best current home winning streak in the nation. The Crimson also earned its first-ever 6-0 mark in league play and is currently riding an eight-game winning streak.
“Anytime you’re undefeated in conference play this time of year, it’s a pretty significant moment,” Amaker said. “To be able to do it for the first time here for us with that particular group is pretty special.”
The Crimson continues to lead the league defensively, allowing an average of 53.4 points per game.
FREE FOR ALL
Although Harvard earned an impressive 32 trips to the line Saturday night, the Crimson failed to capitalize on its free-throw attempts, going 21 for 32. Harvard struggled in the first half in particular, going 7 for 12 (58.3 percent) in the frame.
“We didn’t shoot foul shots well,” Amaker said. “That was really one of our Achilles’ heels tonight in terms of us not being able to stretch things out.”
“Foul shooting can be contagious, like anything else in basketball,” he continued. “If some of your better shooters go up there and somehow they don’t knock them down, it’s amazing how it flows in that direction.”
Sophomore sharpshooter Laurent Rivard got to the line early for the Crimson, drawing two fouls on shots behind the arc in the first five minutes of play.
But Rivard, who entered the game shooting 37 of 45 from the stripe, knocked down just three of his attempts in the opening minutes, setting the tone for Harvard’s worst free-throw shooting performance of the season.
“It was one of these nights,” Rivard said. “The first one I missed, I didn’t follow through according to Coach. It was just a bad night for me, but I just tried to keep shooting, and it paid off a little bit.”
Although Columbia only made it to the line four times on the night, the Lions fared much better in limited trips, finishing all eight of their free-throw attempts.