By Matt Noonan
The Harvard University men’s basketball team extended its season to Saturday as the Crimson defeated the fifth-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats, 61-57.
Wesley Saunders stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points (team-high), four assists, three rebounds and two steals, while Siyani Chambers and Laurent Rivard each netted 11 points.
Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick led all scores with 18 points, while Justin Jackson finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 boards.
The Crimson, who entered the tournament as a 12th seed, converted 19 of 44 shots from the field, including 6 of 17 attempts from beyond the arc. As a team, they went 17 of 28 from the stripe.
The Bearcats finished 21 of 57 from the field. They out rebounded the Crimson, 34-33. However, Harvard won the battle on the defensive end, pulling down 24 defensive caroms.
Harvard led Cincinnati at the break, 36-29, but the Bearcats outscored their opponent in the second session, 28-25.
Titus Rubles brought the Bearcats within two points at 13:52 in the second half with a layup, but Harvard answered with back-to-back layups by Saunders and Evan Cummins that stretched the Crimson’s lead to seven points.
Both teams traded free throws down the stretch. Chambers and Saunders each recorded a pair at the charity stripe, which sealed the win and punched Harvard’s ticket to the third round.
Harvard (27-4) will play the winner of Michigan State-Delaware on Saturday. No time has been announced for the third round contest. Cincinnati concludes its season a 27-7 mark.