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Harvard Holds Off Men's Hoops 67-64

By: Princeton Athletic Communications
          Release: 02/24/2012
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Patrick Saunders made each of his first three 3-point tries.
Courtesy: Princeton Athletic Communications
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Douglas Davis lofted a 3-pointer as time expired at Harvard Friday night, and it hit nothing but net.

Instead of his team leaping off the bench as they did the last time Davis hit a buzzer-beater against Harvard away from Jadwin Gym, Davis just shook his head.

That one went in, but it only affected the margin for the Princeton men's basketball team against the Crimson in Lavietes Pavilion as Harvard prevailed 67-64 to hold on to sole possession of first place in the Ivy League.

"I thought we had a lot of opportunities to pull away," Mitch Henderson, the Franklin C. Cappon-Edward G. Green '40 head coach of Princeton men's basketball, said. "It's not the position we wanted to be in, but their guy (Kyle Casey) is on the line with 30 seconds left."

The Tigers were that close to a win, but Harvard made 8 of 8 free throws in the last 34 seconds to hold on.

A Princeton (15-11, 6-4 Ivy) win would have pulled the Tigers within one game of Harvard (24-3, 10-1) in the loss column and kept Princeton's hopes for an Ivy League title alive if another team could beat the Crimson in one of its last three games.

Now, a Harvard win in any one of its last three games would mathematically eliminate Princeton from title contention, as would one more Princeton loss. The Crimson held onto their lengthy home winning streak, now at 28 games as the second longest in the country.

Kyle Casey, whose 24 points a year ago in Lavietes Pavilion helped Harvard to an Ivy title share-clinching win over the Tigers, led Harvard with 20. Brandyn Curry with 15, Oliver McNally with 13, and Keith Wright with 12 were also in double-figures for the Crimson.

Ian Hummer and Davis led Princeton with 14 points apiece, while Patrick Saunders, who hit each of his first three tries from beyond the arc, finished with 12.

Princeton led for the last nine minutes of the first half and the first 10 of the second, but Harvard led when it mattered most.

A Saunders 3-pointer put Princeton ahead 21-20 with 8:49 to go in the opening half, and though Princeton led by as much as 10 with four minutes before halftime, Harvard scored the last nine points of the half to make it a one-point game at the break.

Still, Princeton roared out of the gate in the second half to grab a seven-point lead at 39-32 little more than three minutes in, and the Tigers again led by seven at 50-43 with 11 minutes left.

Harvard responded with a 9-0 run to take a 52-50 lead, its first lead since the nine-minute mark of the first half.

Princeton last led at 55-54 after Hummer's successful completion of a 3-point play, but a scoring drought of more than six minutes followed. Harvard eked out five points to take a lead it wouldn't relent, and the final-minute free throws put the win away.

"You want to give yourself a chance to win on the road," Henderson said. "I thought we did that tonight. We learned a little bit about execution, after-timeout execution, but I was really happy about the effort."

Princeton will head north to face Dartmouth Saturday at 7 p.m.

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