PHILADELPHIA, Pa.—In a game that wasn’t close, there was one statistic that was a dead heat: both Penn and Harvard men’s basketball co-captain Brandyn Curry tallied four steals on the night.
This was the second time in as many games that the senior either matched or topped the opposing team’s steal total. Last Saturday, against Cornell, Curry’s five edged Cornell’s four in a blowout victory.
Six days and four steals later, Curry’s squad again came out on top. The Crimson (21-4, 8-1 Ivy) took care of Penn (6-16, 3-5), 83-63, at the Palestra on Friday night.
With 14:21 left to play, Harvard inbounded the ball to sophomore guard Siyani Chambers. Chambers sent the rock to junior wing Wesley Saunders, who found Curry just behind the left elbow. Curry’s ensuing jumper gave the Crimson a 19-point lead, 57-38.
On the subsequent Quaker possession, Curry intercepted an errant Penn pass, and led a Harvard fast break in the other direction. The co-captain missed the resulting layup but, only 21 seconds later, Curry’s on-ball defense forced Matt Poplawski to cough up the ball.
Curry proceeded to go coast-to-coast, rolling in the layup.
“Our ability to grab loose balls, find things early, [and our] unselfish[ness were] the keys for the game,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said.
The Crimson notched 13 steals on the night, its second highest mark of the season. On the other end, the team turned the ball over only eight times—its second lowest mark of the season. The Quakers, meanwhile, totaled 20 turnovers—the seventh time this year that Penn made 20 or more mistakes in a single game.
“The word efficient is a word that we honed in on coming into this game,” Amaker said. “I was very pleased with our ability to take care of the ball and not be sloppy…. [We played] efficient basketball.”
For the fourth straight contest, four Harvard players scored in double digits. Co-captain Laurent Rivard, senior forward Kyle Casey, junior forward Steve Moundou-Missi, and Saunders all scored 12 points or more, while Curry—off the bench—and Chambers poured in nine apiece.
“I definitely think that the season…can be tiring and a grind, and for us to have the ability to go to our bench and trust our bench, that was another example of our bench and our balance,” Amaker said. “Those are the two “B” words that have been critical all year, and that was on full display again [tonight].”
The balanced scoring was largely a result of the distributive efforts of Chambers. The sophomore tallied 10 assists, his highest total of the season and one short of his career-high.
While Chambers accumulated 10 dimes, Penn totaled 12 as a team.
Perhaps Chambers’ most notable assist of the night came with 17:42 remaining in the second period. Following a turnover by Quaker Jamal Lewis, Chambers held the ball near the top of the key, motioning for Moundou-Missi to give him a screen. The big man delivered, and Chambers brushed by the pick, threading a pass through multiple defenders to Casey, who was waiting on the low block. Moments later, Casey finished the play with an emphatic dunk, giving the Crimson a 50-32 lead.