By Matt Noonan
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Following the conclusion of Saturday’s contests against Yale University, Harvard’s men’s basketball head coach Tommy Amaker told reporters that he was rather pleased with his team’s effort against the Bulldogs, as well as the Brown University Bears on Friday.
“I thought we came this whole weekend with a resolved [effort] to become a better defensive team, and we certainly achieved that in both victories,” said Amaker. “I was very, very proud of our kids for the effort they were able to bring and the start of both games.
Amaker was also content with the play of junior Brandyn Curry, (18 points) who netted a majority Harvard’s second half points, which helped the Crimson prevail against a gritty Bulldogs squad, 66-51.
“He’s been our playmaker, and he made plays [on Saturday],” said Amaker. “It was nice to see him find a rhythem, and be offensively aggressive and making plays.”
“I just had openings, and I just went for it,” said Curry. “They had a couple of guards that were hurt, so we just had to ware them down, so I was just attacking all night.”
Yale jumped out to a quick three-point lead thanks to senior Greg Mangano, (22 points, 11 rebounds) before Harvard sophomore Lauren Rivard responded with a trifecta 40-seconds later, which jumpstarted the Crimson offense that finished the first frame with 20 points in the paint.
Senior Oliver McNally pulled Harvard ahead for good when he sank back-to-back three-pointers, which gave Harvard a 15-9 advantage at 13:06. Freshman Travis Jonah followed up with a pair from the free throw line before Harvard’s offense tallied four consecutive layups to increase their lead to 27-13.
The Bulldogs offense eventually came to life following a four-minute scoring drought late in the first half, as sophomore Jeremiah Kreisberg recorded a layup at 3:31, which led to nine consecutive points by Yale before the buzzer sounded to conclude the first 20-minute period.
“[Yale this season] has been down, [but] they’ve just marched their way back in and won games, and that’s a mark of a good team, and a tough team,” said Amaker.
Once the second half started, Yale’s offense was electric, as Kreisberg sparked the Bulldogs to go on a 10-7 run, which eventually was halted when Curry and freshman Corbin Miller knocked down a few three-pointers to pull Harvard ahead, 50-41.
Their Crimsons lead eventually ballooned to 60-49 when Curry delivered a highlight reel dunk for the fans, and senior Keith Wright, (10 points, eight rebounds) knocked down a critical jump shot at 3:43 in the second half.
“I didn’t even know I dunked it to be honest with you,” said Curry. “I was just going for it. Just drove and then it happened.”
Junior Kyle Casey then clinched the team’s 10th victory at Lavietes Pavilion with a powerful dunk a few minutes afterward to secure Harvard’s 23rd victory of the season, which matches their win total from last season.
“I’m glad that we were able to take care of business,” said Curry. “We knew this was going to be a tough two-games this weekend, so I’m glad that we were able to buckle down, and get the two w’s.”
Harvard’s win on Saturday also marks their 27th consecutive home win, which is the second longest streak in the country.
“We’re a deep team, and one thing coach says to us every so often is it’s amazing what we can accomplish because no one cares who gets the credit,” said Wright.
The Crimson will return to their home gymnasium next week when they face Princeton on Friday, Feb. 24.