Juniors Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry—who had 13 and 12 points on the day, respectively—reeled off seven straight points to cut the deficit to 11 at the 6:15 mark, but Harvard found itself back in a 16-point hole one minute later.
Then it was Rivard’s turn to keep his squad in contention. The only underclassman starter for either team drained two three-pointers in a 24-second span to make it 68-57, Vanderbilt.
“He torched us in the second half like nobody’s business,” Commodores coach Kevin Stallings said. “That kid was spectacular today.”
On his squad’s next possession, McNally drove into the lane and passed it to a cutting Curry, who hit a finger roll with 3:30 left to bring the Crimson within single digits for the first time in the period.
After a Curry layup again brought Harvard within nine one minute later, the second-team All-Ivy guard forced a turnover on the ensuing inbounds play.
Casey and Wright combined to make four free throws on their squad’s next two possessions, closing out a 14-3 Harvard run that cut the Vanderbilt advantage to 70-65 with 1:51 to go.
But following a 1-of-2 performance at the free throw line by Taylor, the ball inadvertently squirted out of Curry’s hands on the left wing. A leaping McNally attempted to throw it off Commodore guard Dai-Jon Parker along the sideline, but the ball stayed in play long enough for Parker to chase it down.
The Ivy League’s lone tournament representative was then forced to foul. Though Vanderbilt had gone 13-of-22 from the free throw line up to that point, Jenkins hit six free throws in the final minute to seal a Commodore victory and send the Crimson home.
—Staff writer Dennis J. Zheng can be reached at email@example.com.