Box Score Dec. 8, 2014
ALLSTON, Mass. - Leading by three with 8:33 remaining, defending Ivy League champion Harvard went on a 14-4 run over the following six minutes to defeat the Boston University men's basketball team, 70-56, on Monday night at Lavietes Pavilion. With its sixth straight win on the season and in the series, the Crimson improve to 7-1, while the Terriers drop to 2-6.
BU's tenacious zone defense stymied Harvard for much of the contest, as the Crimson finished below 40 percent shooting (39.2%) for just the second time this season. However, Harvard hit two clutch 3-pointers down the stretch and went 16-of-17 at the line in the final 20 minutes to claim its eighth straight victory at home dating back to the end of last season.
Sophomore Blaise Mbargorba led BU off the bench with a career-high 13 points and two blocks, while junior John Papale contributed 10 points and four assists. Classmate Nathan Dieudonne was one point shy of double figures with a team-high six rebounds. Leading scorer and sophomore Cedric Hankerson (19.9 ppg) was limited to three points with all of them coming at the line after playing just eight minutes in the first half due to foul trouble.
Highlighted by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that broke a 45-45 deadlock and gave Harvard the lead for good at 10:39, reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Wesley Saunders nearly had a triple-double with 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Former Ivy Rookie of the Year Siyani Chambers contributed 10 points and seven assists, and Corbin Miller contributed 14 points off the bench behind three treys on 13 attempts.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair that saw four ties and eight lead changes. Down 12-8 at 13:39, sophomore Eric Fanning drained a pair of free throws and was followed by freshman Will Goff's 3-pointer. Fanning gave BU its largest lead at 9:34 (19-14) on a contested layup and free throw.
Saunders responded with a trey, and Zena Edosomwan came back with a layup off a nice feed from Chambers to tie the game at 19-19 with 7:57 remaining in the first half. Down 26-23, the Terriers grabbed their final lead of the game (29-26) on three straight layups. Dieudonne hauled in a defensive rebound before scoring the first one and then used his own steal to score the second. Papale followed with another steal to set up freshman Eric Johnson's fastbreak layup.
Harvard came out of the timeout with back-to-back 3-pointers and entered the locker room with a slight 34-33 advantage after Mbargorba banked a jump shot at the buzzer for the Terriers. The Terriers shot 48.0 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes but hurt themselves at the line, going 6-of-12.
The Crimson came out attacking in the second half and grabbed a 43-35 lead at 15:05 on Steve Moundou-Missi's dunk, prompting a BU timeout. The Terriers regrouped and clawed their way back to tie the game at 45-45 with 11:19 remaining on back-to-back Papale 3-pointers.
On the ensuing possession following a media timeout just before the shot clock expired, Saunders flushed a 28-footer with a hand in his face to give Harvard the lead for good. Down 50-47 at 8:33 after Papale hit consecutive free throws, BU got a defensive stop to earn the opportunity to tie the game for a sixth time.
However, the Terriers lost the ball over on an in-bounds pass for their eighth and final turnover of the contest. Harvard converted both free throws after being fouled on the fastbreak layup attempt to push the lead to five. On the following possession, the Terriers missed a 3-point attempt from the corner, and Miller came right back with the 3-point dagger at 6:12 for the 55-47 advantage.
Mbargorba pulled BU within eight (57-49) at 4:07, and the Terriers later forced Harvard into a tough shot for a potential stop. The Crimson though earned one of its 14 offensive rebounds, and 25 seconds later, Chambers hit the layup plus the free throw to all but seal the victory.
Harvard entered the contest with a 48.0 shooting percentage from the field and finished 20-of-51 (.392) against the Terriers while going 23-of-25 (.920) at the charity stripe. BU shot 48.0 percent in the first half to stay within one after 20 minutes of action but went 8-of-25 (.320) in the final 20 to end the contest 20-of-50 (.400).
The Terriers attempted a season-low 13 3-point attempts and outscored Harvard in the paint, 24-22, but could not convert when needed at the line, finishing 11-of-20 (.550). The Crimson owned an 18-9 advantage in second-chance points, while BU led in points off turnovers, 12-6, after the teams combined for 17 miscues.
BU will next return to Case Gym and host Quinnipiac on Sunday (Dec. 14) at 1 p.m. The regional rivals will be facing off for the fourth straight year following the Terriers' thrilling last-second 69-66 win in Hamden, Conn., last season.