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It started out as a game co-captain Christian Webster would rather not remember.
Through the first 38 minutes of Saturdays’ contest between the Harvard men’s basketball team and Dartmouth, the senior was shooting one of six from beyond the arc.
That’s when things turned around—in a big way.
Webster nailed three three-pointers in the final 93 seconds of regulation, leading the Crimson back from a late 10-point deficit to force overtime. Webster tacked on an assist, block, and rebound in the extra period, and Harvard pulled out an 82-77 victory.
“I’m at a loss for words right now,” Webster said after the game.
With the Crimson trailing by 10, 57-47, and 1:42 remaining, Harvard coach Tommy Amaker drew up a play for Webster coming out of a timeout.
After sophomore Steve Moundou-Missi set a screen for freshman point guard Siyani Chambers at the top of the key, Webster’s defender left him to defend Moundou-Missi as he rolled to the basket. Chambers found Webster open on the wing, and the senior drilled the triple.
Amaker called Webster’s number again with the Crimson trailing by six with 47 ticks left. This time, Webster received an off-ball screen from junior co-captain Laurent Rivard as he cut to the top of the key and received a pass from sophomore Wesley Saunders. With a hand in his face, Webster drilled the three to pull the Crimson within three.
On its next possession, Harvard ran the same play, and Webster again came through.
“We executed brilliantly,” Amaker said. “I thought Siyani and Wesley did a great job of executing the passes and the plays to get Christian the ball. And Laurent made an incredible screen to get Christian open. And obviously all those things have to happen and then Christian’s got to make a shot and he did.”
Saturday’s contest was not the first time that Webster came up in the clutch for the Crimson.
As a rookie, Webster drilled an and-one three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining to pull the Crimson within one of Princeton. (Harvard ended up falling by three after then-senior Jeremy Lin ’10 missed a contested three-pointer at the end of regulation).
As a sophomore, Webster played a critical role in the Crimson’s 24-point comeback against Brown at Lavietes Pavilion. After opening the game 0 for 8 from the field, Webster scored 18 points in the final 15:50, shooting four of four from beyond the arc. Webster’s final triple gave the Crimson a 68-66 advantage with 7:40 remaining, and Harvard led the rest of the way.
Harvard’s offensive numbers at halftime were atrocious.
The Crimson was shooting 7 of 21 from the field, had turned it over 12 times, and had scored just 20 points—its second lowest first-half output of the season.
“I thought they played terrific defense on our whole team,” Amaker said. “I know we missed a lot of shots. A lot of that obviously is a credit to how they played us. The shots weren’t easy for us.”
Saunders, Chambers, and Rivard—who entered the contest averaging 16.1, 12.7, and 11.1 points, respectively—combined for just six points on 2-of-10 shooting.
But one Harvard player managed to fill the basket. In just 12 minutes on the court, sophomore forward Jonah Travis posted 10 of the Crimson’s 20 points.
Travis added six points in the second half, but was held scoreless in the final 3:30 of regulation and in overtime.
The sophomore finished with 16 points on seven of nine shooting and added four rebounds.
Travis entered the contest averaging 8.9 points per game, fourth on the Crimson. Travis has now scored in double figures in three of Harvard’s past five games.
“I did think Jonah gave us some quality minutes,” Amaker said.
FEAR THE BIG GREEN
With the Crimson’s victory on Saturday, Harvard extended its winning streak to eight games over its travel partner.
Despite its recent success, Harvard has had a tough time handling Dartmouth. Just two weeks ago in Hanover, N.H., the Crimson trailed late in the second half before making a late run to take a 10-point win.
A year ago, Harvard led the Big Green by just one at halftime in Cambridge before closing the contest on a 40-25 run.
—Staff writer Martin Kessler can be reached at email@example.com
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