For two nights in a row, Harvard men’s basketball co-captain Laurent Rivard was on fire, raining three-pointers and leading the Crimson to a weekend sweep over two Ivy foes at Lavietes Pavilion.
The 6’5” guard ended the homestand 11-of-17 from beyond the arc in triumphs over Princeton and Penn, helping Harvard (17-3, 4-0 Ivy) remain unbeaten in Ancient Eight play and maintaining its standing at the top of the conference.
“[Rivard] is that good of a jump shooter,” said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker after Saturday’s win. “We have known that, and that’s why we have a tremendous amount of faith and confidence in him. He has shot well this weekend.”
Rivard got started early against the Tigers on Friday night, and he ended the first half 2-of-4 from downtown.
“I started with an open look,” Rivard said. “I was wide open and I knocked the shot down, which is always fun. I missed the second one…but I felt good about it. The ones I missed weren’t really off, so I thought it was going to be a good game. I just kept going to the spots and my teammates kept finding me, so it ended up being a pretty good night.”
From then on, Rivard went 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, finishing the night with 18 points. Late in the second half, the Crimson’s all-time three-point leader knocked down a crucial three from the corner that extended Harvard’s lead to seven in the midst of a close game.
“[Junior Wesley] Saunders found me again,” Rivard said. “I had a good night shooting. That’s the type of momentum play we needed that is hurtful for the other team.”
The guard attempted only one two-point shot on the night, but didn’t connect on it. His three points that didn’t come from beyond the arc came from the free-throw line.
His dominance from downtown continued in Saturday night’s matchup against the Quakers, when Rivard recorded a season-high 22 points, leading all scorers. His six treys on the night tied his career-best.
During one 56-second stretch, Rivard knocked down three consecutive threes.Against Penn, Rivard was 6-of-9 from behind the three-point line and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe.
Overall, it was a big game from deep for Harvard. The team connected on a season-high 12 treys on the night. The Crimson did not tally a single point from inside the arc for the first 16 minutes of the second half. Its first 30 points of the period came exclusively on threes and free throws.
It was a historic night for Rivard, too. With the six makes, he moved into a tie for fourth for the most three-pointers ever scored by an Ivy League player with 253.
“He had a hell of a night,” senior forward Kyle Casey said. “He is our shooter…. They kept losing him and we kept finding him. On any given night, anyone can explode. It was definitely his night.”
This weekend marked a continuation of the senior’s success from deep this season. So far this campaign, Rivard has made 41.8 percent of his three-pointers, along with 83.0 percent of his free throws. In Ivy League play this year, he has converted 60.9 percent of the shots he has attempted from deep. He finished the weekend averaging 20 points per game and shot 64.7 percent, and his prowess from beyond the arc propelled the squad to two crucial conference victories.
Harvard sits at 4-0 in Ivy play on the season, one game ahead of Brown and Yale. Both teams will visit Lavietes this upcoming weekend.
Rivard will most likely be counted upon to come through in clutch situations as the Crimson heads into the meat of its conference schedule.
“Rivard [recognizes] the significance of a Saturday night game in our conference and knows how important that can be, home or away,” Amaker said.
After his performance this weekend, there is little doubt that Rivard will be trusted to make the calls on his shots when he has an opportunity to convert. “He has a green light,” Amaker said.
—Staff writer Ariel Smolik-Valles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.