RECAP: Late Free Throws Push Harvard to 73-71 Upset Win over Princeton

Despite missing his first three seasons, Harvard senior Patrick Steeves has been one of the team's best players in 2015-16. On Friday night, the Canadan scored a game-high 25 points, including two late free throws, to lift Harvard to the 73-71 upset win over the Princeton Tigers. (Source: The Crimson)
Despite missing his first three seasons, Harvard senior Patrick Steeves has been one of the team’s best players in 2015-16. On Friday night, the Canadan scored a game-high 25 points, including two late free throws, to lift Harvard to the 73-71 upset win over the Princeton Tigers. (Source: The Crimson)

As the 2015-16 season has progressed, the race for the Ivy League title has become a two-horse race. The Yale Bulldogs have led for the entire way, but the Princeton Tigers were nipping at their heels, just a half-game back with one game in hand.

Based on their track records this year, it looked as though the teams were on a collision course for a one-game play-off at the end of the regular season to determine who would represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament. With Yale taking care of Cornell on Friday night, Princeton was looking to keep pace with a road win over the Harvard Crimson.

As expected, the Crimson haven’t been as strong as in year’s past in 2015-16, and injuries haven’t helped their cause. The loss of Siyani Chambers was well-documented, and the team hasn’t been able to dominate their opponents like they have in recent years.

On Friday night, the Crimson had their sights set on an upset. They were led by Canadian senior Patrick Steeves, who missed his first three seasons with the Crimson.

He scored a game-high 25 points, none more important than the two free throws he made with 7 seconds left to send Harvard to the 73-71 upset victory over the Princeton Tigers.

After the first half, Harvard held an 8-point lead, and looked to have a firm grasp on the game as they entered the final 20 minutes.

Harvard looked to be sitting pretty, but Princeton had other plans.

The Tigers opened the second half on an 11-2 run that spanned over 5 minutes to get themselves right back into the contest. Henry Caruso capped off the run with a layup at the 14:44 mark to give the Tigers a 46-45 lead.

Princeton seemingly had all of the momentum in their corner, but Harvard wasn’t going to go down without a fight.

Harvard would retake their lead under two minutes later, and would extend it to as many as 7 in the second half. Zena Edosomwan hit a jumper with 8:55 to play to give Harvard a 66-59 cushion, but Princeton fought right back.

Back and forth the teams went in the second half, as neither tea was able to put the other away. The Tigers cut the deficit down to a single point on several occasions, but weren’t able to take a lead of their own until the closing minutes.

With 1:37 to play, Steven Cook hit a three pointer to give Princeton a slim 69-68 advantage. Edosomwan responded with a layup for the Crimson to retake a 70-69 lead.

The teams traded baskets, and the game was tied at 71-all when Steeves was fouled. He made both free throws to give the Crimson a 73-71 lead, and Crimson fans held their breath as the Tigers had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds.

Myles Stephens missed a jumper, Steven Cook missed a second-chance layup, and fans of both Harvard and Yale let out a collective sigh of relief as the Crimson came away with the 73-71 upset victory.


Game Leaders

Star forward Spencer Weisz was limited on Friday night, as he was held to just 7 points and 3 assists in the loss. Others stepped up on his off night, but it wasn’t enough to lead the Tigers to the win.

Steven Cook scored a game-high 16 points, while Henry Caruso added 13 points and 5 rebounds of his own in the loss.

Patrick Steeves put together arguably his best game as a member of the Crimson. He scored a game-high 25 points, while shooting 9-of-13 from the floor on the night.

Zena Edosomwan recorded a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds in the win. Freshman Corey Johnson was held off the score sheet, but Harvard found a way to come away with the win.


Looking Ahead

The loss puts the Princeton Tigers (20-6, 10-2) even farther behind the Yale Bulldogs for the conference title. The Bulldogs can clinch the conference title, and a spot in the NCAA Tournament, with a win on Saturday as a result of the Tigers’ loss. Princeton will look to bounce back on Saturday when they take on the Dartmouth Big Green.

While the win has little to no impact on their post-season future, the Harvard Crimson (13-16, 5-8) are showing that they won’t back down from a fight. The win was their second straight, and they will look to continue their streak in their season finale on Saturday. The Crimson close out the 2015-16 regular season against the Penn Quakers.

– T.B.