There was a celebration. At the final buzzer, Siyani Chambers leaped into the arms of teammate Brandyn Curry. And Kyle Casey described the moment — Harvard 61, Cincinnati 57 — as "pure ecstasy." But an instant later, there was consolation. Casey and Chambers were kneeling beside an opponent, Bearcats senior forward Justin Jackson, who had crumpled to the ground, crying. And then the Crimson players headed for the locker room, happy but nonchalant after achieving their victory. Call it an upset if you must, but the Crimson won't. "It was just Harvard beating Cincinnati. That's what we call it," Steve Moundou-Missi said after the 12th-seed Crimson's win against a No.5-seeded team in the first of four second-round games Thursday at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. But he admitted: "We definitely want to make a statement that we can compete at the national level. We showed up today and did a good job. And now we get to move on." Harvard will play the East Region's No. 4 seed, Michigan State, a 93-78 winner against Delaware, in the third round Saturday. Adreian Payne scored a career-high 41 points for the Spartans, shooting 10-for-15 from the field, including 4-for-5 from three-point range. It was Harvard's second victory in the NCAA tournament. And if there wasn't the reverberation of what the Crimson achieved a year ago in stunning No. 3 seed New Mexico, it's perhaps because Cincinnati was a deeply flawed team. But it's probably time to reassess the evaluation of Harvard's program. The Ivy League has notched victories in the NCAA tournament for consecutive years for the first time since 1983-84, and Tommy Amaker has built a program that doesn't much resemble the stereotype. His players are smart, yes. And confident: "We go to the best university in the world," Casey said. But Harvard is constructed for more than, as he called it, a "battle of the brainiacs." These kids dunk — they had several more than Cincinnati. They defended almost as well as the Bearcats. And Thursday, at least, they missed free throws, going 17-for-28. The tone was set early, when Casey, a 6-7 senior forward, took a pass and threw down a tomahawk dunk in traffic. "I'm sorry," Moundou-Missi said, "but that's how we play." It's what they did, and while one stereotype remained valid — Cincinnati, which shot 36.8% from the field, is offensively challenged — Harvard had something to do with it. During a stretch in the first half, Cincinnati missed 12 consecutive shots. In the second half, the Bearcats went almost six minutes without a field goal, and they struggled inside.
Harvard wants to 'make a statement' in NCAAs
USA Today | Mar 21