Kyle Casey scored 20 points and Harvard's defense delivered down the stretch as the Crimson rallied past Princeton, 67-64, Friday night at Lavietes Pavilion. Harvard can clinch a tie for the Ivy League title Saturday night when it hosts second-place Penn, which edged Dartmouth on Friday.
Brandyn Curry added 15 points and six assists and sparked two second-half spurts -- one that rallied Harvard from a seven-point deficit into the lead, and the second that put the Crimson ahead for good while Princeton was going over six minutes without a point.
"I just thought our defense and our will to win tonight was outstanding," Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. "We had to go to different people in different moments. Again, our bench and our balance gave us an outstanding performance, and we needed it. I thought Brandon Curry's play in particular, he's been spectacular for us going down the stretch here with our season."
Casey hit 7-of-13 shots and also had eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
"It was a game we had to win," Casey said. "When you have to win, people have to step up. Tonight, I was kind of feeling it. My shots were falling."
Also for Harvard (24-3, 10-1 Ivy) , Oliver McNally scored 13 points -- including 6-of-6 free throws in the final 18 seconds -- and Keith Wright contributed 12 points and six rebounds.
Ian Hummer and Douglas Davis scored 14 points apiece for Princeton (15-11, 6-4).
Princeton, the only Ivy team to beat Harvard this season, was in control of this game for much of it, leading by seven with 11:03 left after a strong driving layup by Jimmy Sherburne. Harvard then embarked on a 9-0 run. The Crimson finally got back even with 9:58 remaining after Curry sparked a five-point run in a matter of seconds. First he drove baseline and scored on a layup while being fouled. After hitting the free throw, he forced a turnover on the inbounds pass. Then he drove and made a nice pass to Wright, who was fouled and hit both free throws to even the score at 50. Less than 30 seconds later, Wright tipped in a rebound to put Harvard up by a pair.
The game seesawed after that, with Curry hitting a trey to give Harvard a two-point lead and then hitting a driving layup for a four-point advantage, 59-55.
Princeton did not score for over six minutes, finally ending the drought when T.J. Bray hit 1-of-2 free throws with just over two minutes left. That made it a 59-56 game.
Davis hit a bank shot in the lane with 54 seconds left to draw Princeton with a point. At the other end, Casey was fouled down low with 34 seconds remaining. Hit nailed both from the line to make it 61-58. After a Princeton miss, McNally hit two free throws with 18 seconds left for a five-point cushion.
Bray nailed a long 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining to get Princeton back within a pair, but McNally hit two more free throws to to make it 65-61. Davis then lost the ball dribbling up the sideline, and McNally sewed it up with two more free throws. Davis hit a desperation heave at the buzzer for the final scoring.
Harvard struggled overall at the free throw line, missing seven of its first 16, but the Crimson went 8-for-8 in the final 34 seconds, with six of those coming from McNally.
Harvard scored the game's first seven points, but Princeton stormed back and led by as many as 10 in the opening half. A period-ending 9-0 run by the Crimson -- fueled by Casey, who had 12 points and six rebounds in the half -- cut the deficit to one at the break, 33-32.
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