Sports | Men's Basketball

Men’s basketball blown out at Harvard, eliminated from title chase

  • Kiera Wood / Senior Staff Photographer
    no dice | Junior forward Alex Rosenberg and the Lions were completely outmatched by the Crimson on the road.

Updated March 1 at 11:30 p.m.

BOSTON, MASS.—In a must-win game for its Ivy title hopes, the men’s basketball team (18-11, 7-5 Ivy) put together arguably its worst performance of the season, falling behind by double digits within minutes and losing to the Crimson, 80-47.

With the win, Harvard (24-4, 11-1 Ivy) clinched a share of the Ivy title for the fourth year in a row, while Columbia was formally eliminated from Ancient Eight title contention.

“They just brought it to us. They outhustled us, outrebounded us. They were moving harder,” junior guard Meiko Lyles said. “I couldn’t pinpoint any one thing. They just brought it to us like we weren’t ready.”

The Lions looked extremely poor in the early going. It took nearly four minutes before they even got on the board. The Light Blue committed turnover after turnover offensively—at one point, it had seven turnovers and only four points, all from first-year forward Jeff Coby, who led the team with a career-high 11 points. And before the game was 12 minutes old, a layup from Harvard guard Brandyn Curry extended the Crimson’s lead to 26-6.

“You don’t know for sure when something gets that bad,” Columbia head coach Kyle Smith said. “It’s uncharacteristic of this team.”

While the Lion offense eventually did start scoring, the defense was uncharacteriscally poor for most of the game. It failed to keep Harvard out of the paint more often than not—and in the rare moments it did, it left Crimson sharpshooters like guard Laurent Rivard, who scored 21 points on 6-for-8 shooting from downtown in the final home game of his Harvard career, wide open on the perimeter. 

“We got out, competed, and then we wilted a little bit,” Smith said. “I took the technical early in the game, trying to get some fight in us. I thought we did a good job, we rallied back. ... Just too big of a hill to overcome.”

The Light Blue was able to cut its deficit. It trailed by just 11 late in the first half, and after sophomore guard Maodo Lo sliced through the Crimson defense for a layup early in the second half, the deficit was down to 10. But that was as close as the Lions got. Harvard swingman Wesley Saunders knocked down a pair of free throws, and a little later, after a three from Light Blue first-year forward Luke Petrasek cut Harvard’s lead to 11, Rivard responded with a three of his own. 

“When things went south in the second half, we broke,” Smith said. “When it seemed like they needed to get a bucket or get to the foul line, they were able to get there.”

After shooting over 40 percent from the field up to that point, Columbia once again began missing shots and allowing Harvard to get open looks all over the court. The talented Crimson took advantage and pulled away.

“They just got easy buckets. They got dunks, alley-oops, layups—not much you can say,” Lyles said. “It didn’t help that they were on fire—that they weren’t missing.”

“We got whipped,” Smith said.

Columbia closes its regular season next weekend, hosting Penn and Princeton. 

muneeb.alam@columbiaspectator.com | @muneebalamcu

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Alum posted on

I watched the game. I think it is time for ivy teams to refuse to play Harvard. They are playing by different rules. Their basketball team is too good for the ivy league. Maybe it is time for them to join a more competitive conference.

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No posted on

We came 1 bad call away from beating them last time we played them. We can still compete with them

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Anonymous posted on

That is true and Yale beat them. But, if you watch them play you will see that they have players that play on a different level than other ivy players. And, the results show that they are on a different level. That is ok, but they should play in a different league...not the ivy league. If not, then other ivies will change their recruitment and the ivy league will change into a typical conference with athletes who are not really students.

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Harvard Dominance Through Lower Academic Standards posted on

I agree with "Alum" that it is time for Ivy teams to refuse to play Harvard. The Crimson is indeed playing by different rules pertaining to the Academic Index.

While the other seven Ivies spread their low AI recruits across a number of sports, Harvard concentrates a disproportionate share onto the men's basketball team.

It's no surprise that, of the fifteen highest rated recruits in the Ivy League over the past decade, eleven of them were recruited by Harvard and ten are on the Crimson roster right now. (Three went to Penn and one went to Princeton.) No other Division I team in the country dominates its conference in recruiting like Harvard does.

Lower academic standards = more athletic players = Ivy basketball championships.

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Puzzled Alum posted on

How is it that Harvard's coach can do this, while the other Ivy coaches can't?

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Anonymous posted on

Tommy Amaker has name recognition from having been an excellent college basketball player in his time and from having coached at Duke (assistant coach) and Michigan (head coach).

Kyle Smith, by comparison, is best known for being an assistant on a mid-major that once made it to the Sweet Sixteen-- nothing to sneeze at, but not the same as coaching at a top basketball school-- while, say, Princeton's Mitch Henderson was simply a very good player for the Tigers a few years ago.

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Anonymous posted on

Harvard is allowed to recruit very low GPA players and not report it or cover them up with average ream stats. They recruit one bad player with 2400 SATs then have a decent team average. Columbia generally does not recruit athletes that are too far off the schools" averages.

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Puzzled Alum posted on

Apparently, what Harvard is doing conforms to Ivy League and NCAA rules in this respect. So we're to believe Harvard is doing something in this instance that other Ivies don't? On other subjects, Harvard was investigated a few years ago for NCAA recruiting violations and cleared, I think. Harvard also had two of its best b-ball players sit out last year due to the previous year's widespread cheating scandal at Harvard.

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Puzzled Alum posted on

When I said above that Harvard was "cleared" by the NCAA, that may have been an overstatement. Think that Harvard wasn't penalized.

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Anonymous posted on

"You can't always get what you want."; to coin a phrase. Except if you're Harvard. they were very poor in basketball for years. then they hired a coach whose ethics were suspect and his assistant coach tried out players (notice that I did not say "students") in playgrounds. The league looked into this behavior and found no reason to sanction the program. (really?)
Now I read all the posts about low academic standards. Well, the powers that be made it happen!

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Anonymous posted on

For years, it was Penn & Princeton that dominated the Ivy League. Then, for a short period, Cornell was dominant. Now it is Harvard's turn.

Do Columbia's academic departments say that other schools get more Nobel prizes, therefore we shouldn't compete with them? No. The school goes out to try to attract the best and the brightest. It should be so academically and athletically.

Of the recruits for which Harvard allegedly lowered its standards, how many of them have failed to graduate with a Harvard degree? If the students can play basketball and complete the academics, let them in. Harvard has Tommy Amaker and the Harvard name. Columbia has the Columbia name, New York City, and the best travel schedule in the league.

Columbia can compete with Harvard. A few weeks ago, Columbia took Harvard to double overtime. A few months ago, Columbia almost defeated Michigan State.

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Alum posted on

The Lions didn't show up. Simple as that.

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