Kicking off Ivy League conference play, better known as the 14-game tournament, the Harvard Crimson men’s basketball team put together an emphatic 76-47 win over the Dartmouth Big Green on Saturday (Jan. 9).
The Big Green, who saw head coach Jerry Dunn tender his resignation the day before in a rare midseason departure, fought with the Crimson early on, and actually held a 12-11 lead through the first seven minutes.
But after Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker called a 30-second timeout to settle his team down, the Crimson put together a 13-3 run in a five-and-a-half-minute span to go up by nine points. The Big Green never challenged again.
“We came out with good pressure defensively from the beginning. We just turned the ball over and went for steals and didn’t get them,” said sophomore guard Oliver McNally, who had four assists and a steal in 15 minutes of play. “Once we took [a few] stupid mistakes out, we started to settle down and build our lead.”
Sophomore forward Keith Wright, who led all scorers with a career-high 22 points, went 11 for 16 from the floor. He also pulled down six rebounds and blocked three shots.
“The coaches really allow me to feel comfortable,” said Wright. “I worked a lot on my mid-range jumper this summer, and it’s all paying off.”
Harvard co-captain Jeremy Lin ’10, the Crimson’s leading scorer, was held to just 11 points on the day, but he made up for his low scoring output by dishing out five assists and recording six steals. At one point in the second half, Lin had four steals in a minute and a half, one of them capped by a thunderous dunk that brought the 1,500 fans at Lavietes Pavilion to their feet.
“It’s a nice opportunity to win a conference game when our best player [Lin] doesn’t have an absolutely tremendous offensive day,” said Amaker. “I think that says a lot for our bench and our balance.”
Freshman guard Christian Webster, who shot five for six from the field, added 12 points for the Crimson. As a team, Harvard shot a healthy 55 percent.
“We have a lot of weapons that offensively allow us to be a dangerous team,” said Amaker.
Providing a defensive spark off the bench was freshman forward Kyle Casey, who, after coming off career highs in scoring and rebounding with 27 and eight against Santa Clara, had an outstanding defensive effort, with four blocks.
“You can’t key in on one person with our team,” said Amaker. “It’s a nice feeling for us to have — that we have other options that can pick up the slack.”
The win was Harvard’s fifth in a row and gave the Crimson a record of 12-3 (1-0 Ivy League), as the team continues the best start in its 99-year history.
“A lot of us are really banged up, but we have that motivation, that drive to get a banner up,” said Wright. “We’re working really hard.”
The Crimson now take a two-week break before embarking on a three-game road trip against Dartmouth (Jan. 23), Columbia (Jan. 29), and Cornell (Jan. 30).