Being the first one through the door before the band has tuned a single instrument and well before the punch has had a chance to get spiked is not the preferred way to enter a social gathering.

Not for this kind of party, though.

Harvard clinched the first automatic bid for the NCAA tournament last night with a 70-58 victory over Yale at Payne Whitney Gymnasium.

Siyani Chambers had a team-high 17 points and six assists, and the Crimson held their fourth straight opponent under 60 points, clamping down on their third straight outright Ivy League title.

“To have that happen for us it means a great deal, for the right reasons,” said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker, whose team has won or shared the Ivy League title four straight seasons. “We’ve shown that we’ve been the best team in our league, and that’s saying something.“

It was only a few weeks ago that Harvard (25-4, 12-1) tripped up for the first time at home against these Bulldogs (15-12, 9-4) in conference play. Since that loss, the Crimson have won six straight games, all by double-digits, to take hold of their tournament destiny instead of holding their breath in need of a win tonight against Brown.

“If you could ask us if this was how you would want to win it you couldn’t cap it much better,” Crimson senior guard Brandyn Curry said. “It definitely means a lot to come back after everything and to win here at this place.”

The Crimson weren’t just early for the NCAA tournament, they were also the only team to show up in opening moments of last night’s game.

Chambers stole the Bulldogs’ first possession and Steve Moundou-Missi (16 points) put back his missed lay-in as a precursor to the first six-plus minutes of the game.

Harvard opened things on a 16-2 run, and Yale started the game going 1-for-6 from the floor. Chambers had three assists in the early going and the ball was buzzing around the perimeter, with the Bulldogs unable to figure out where the Crimson attack was coming from.

Yale finally started to get going thanks to sophomore big man Justin Sears. He posted 13 points in the opening half, and the Bulldogs were able to cut the Crimson lead to seven.

But Curry hit back-to-back 3’s in the final minute of the first half to give Harvard a 36-23 lead.

Sears continued coming at the Harvard frontcourt in the second half. He led the game with 28 points and finished 11-of-16 from the floor. But the rest of the team went 7-of-34 from the field, and that flimsy support wasn’t enough even after he almost brought the building down with a thunderous dunk to cut the Crimson lead to nine with 5:33 left in the game.