RECAP: Harvard Advances to Finals of Diamond Head Classic with 69-51 Win over Auburn

Freshman guard Corey Johnson scored a team-high 14 point, and 5 different players reached double-figures for the Crimson as Harvard cruised to the 69-51 win over Auburn in the semi-finals of the Diamond Head Classic. (Source: Harvard Magazine)
Freshman guard Corey Johnson scored a team-high 14 point, and 5 different players reached double-figures for the Crimson as Harvard cruised to the 69-51 win over Auburn in the semi-finals of the Diamond Head Classic. (Source: Harvard Magazine)

Before the 2015-16 season even started, the Harvard Crimson found themselves with their backs against the wall. It was announced that Siyani Chambers would miss the entire season due to injury, and the Crimson were without their top offensive threat.

In the early part of the season, it was clear that the Crimson missed their star. They made the trip to Hawaii with a 4-6 record to their name, and haven’t looked like the dominant Crimson team that fans have become accustomed to seeing on a nightly basis.

As it turns out, all they needed to get back on track was a trip to Hawaii and an appearance in the Diamond Head Classic. In their opener, the Crimson took down BYU in a close contest, 85-82. On Tuesday afternoon, they turned their attention to the Auburn Tigers, looking for a spot in the tournament finals on Christmas Day.

The turnaround would continue for the Crimson, and they would never let the Tigers hold a lead as they cruised to the 69-51 victory.

Harvard wasted little time making a statement, opening the game on a 17-4 run over the first five-plus minutes, putting Auburn against the wall before they had a chance to get settled. Evan Cummins got the Crimson on the board first, and recorded 7 points in the run.

Freshman guard Corey Johnson connected on a pair of three pointers in the run to help push the lead for the Crimson.

Cinmeon Bowers responded with a three of his own for the Tigers to put a stop to Harvard’s run, but the damage had already been done. The momentum was firmly with the Crimson, and they refused to let up as the game wore on.

A three pointer from Corbin Miller at the 6:13 mark of the first half stretched the lead to 16 points for the Crimson. Auburn would keep fighting, and trim the deficit to 10, but another three pointer from Miller at the 1:16 mark restored the 16-point lead.

The Tigers would cut into the lead in the last minute, trimming the deficit to 40-29 at the break.

Auburn continued to fight in the second half, cutting the deficit to single digits on several occasions. Whenever Auburn tried to make a run at the lead, Harvard had an answer on offense and pushed the lead back to double digits.

Patrick Steeves pushed the Crimson lead to 20 points on a jumper at the 11:44 mark of the second half, their largest lead of the game. From there, the Crimson were able to coast down the stretch due to their strong play on both ends of the floor.

Behind a balanced scoring attack that saw five different players reach double-figures, the Harvard Crimson advanced to the finals of the Diamond Head Classic with a 69-51 win over the Auburn Tigers.

Canadian Corey Johnson led the way for the Crimson, scoring a team-high 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the floor. Evan Cummins added 13 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, while Zena Edosomwan added 13 points and 6 rebounds of his own.

As for the Auburn Tigers, three players scored in double-figures, but it wasn’t enough to lead them to the win. Cinmeon Bowers recorded a game-high 17 points to go along with 9 rebounds in 35 minutes of action. Forward Tyler Harris recorded a double-double of 12 points ans 12 rebounds.

Star guard Kareem Canty was held in check on the afternoon, recording just 3 points on 1-of-15 shooting.

Looking Ahead

The Harvard Crimson (5-6) have won three straight games, and look to have turned things around, at least for the time being. They will have a big opportunity on Christmas Day, when they take part in the Diamond Head Classic finals against the winner of Oklahoma/Hawaii.

As for the Auburn Tigers (6-4), the loss was their third in their last five contests, and they have alternated wins and losses over their last six games overall. They can still leave Hawaii on a positive note, as they will take part in the 3rd Place on Christmas Day against the loser of the Oklahoma/Hawaii contest.

– T.B.