A year after making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1946, Harvard won its first NCAA tournament game ever, a shocking 68-62 upset of third-seeded New Mexico on Thursday night in Salt Lake City.
Wesley Saunders scored 18 points, Laurent Rivard netted 17 — hitting 5-of-9 3-pointers — and the 14th-seeded Crimson held their own down low against the bigger Lobos.
Harvard (20-9) advances to play Saturday against sixth-seeded Arizona, which knocked off Belmont in an earlier game.
“I’m exceptionally proud of our guys,” coach Tommy Amaker said in a televised on-court interview right after the monumental win. “They had to believe. We talked about preparation, we talked about passion, we talked about belief. We battled a really good basketball team in a tough environment. I’m very proud of our guys.”
The Crimson led most of the game. New Mexico (29-6), which scored just two points over the game’s first seven-plus minutes, fought back and led by two points with just under eight minutes left after a 3-pointer by Jamal Fenton.
But Harvard had the answer, pushing out to an eight-point lead, 63-55, after a jumper from freshman point guard Siyani Chambers with just over two minutes left. New Mexico never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
Alex Kirk, a 7-foot sophomore, scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the way for New Mexico.