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Harvard beats Yale, 53-51, in Ivy League playoff game

Harvard guard Agunwa Okolie slams a dunk against

Harvard guard Agunwa Okolie slams a dunk against Yale during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Cambridge, Mass., on Friday, March 6, 2015. Credit: AP / Charles Krupa

PHILADELPHIA - Steve Moundou-Missi hit a 15-foot jumper with 7.2 seconds left, Wesley Saunders scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half and Harvard beat Yale 53-51 on Saturday in a one-game Ivy League playoff for its fourth straight NCAA Tournament berth.

Saunders then kept possession for Harvard on Moundou-Missi' miss by hustling for an offensive rebound, before setting up Moundou-Missi's go-ahead basket.

Yale's Javier Duren missed a running layup at the buzzer as Harvard fans rushed the floor at the Palestra.

Justin Sears scored 13 points and Duren had 12 for Yale (22-10). The Bulldogs missed out on their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1962.

With Harvard (22-7) trailing by one, Saunders hit a driving layup and was fouled, completing a three-point play to give the Crimson a 51-49 lead with 1:27 left. Duren, who went 6 for 6 from the foul line in the final 4 minutes, hit two free throws to tie it at 51 with 54.6 seconds.

Yale and Harvard shared the Ivy League title with 11-3 records to set up the playoff to determine the conference's automatic NCAA bid. The Ivy is the only Division I league without a conference tournament.

After Yale took a five-point lead -- matching its largest of the day -- with 14:50 remaining, Saunders scored nine straight points on a three-point play and consecutive 3-pointers to give the Crimson a 36-32 lead.

Saunders, the 2013-14 Ivy League Player of the Year, helped the Crimson extend their lead to 40-32 and then 46-37 with 6:10 left after two more quick jumpers.

But the Bulldogs fought all the way back to take a 49-48 lead with 1:40 remaining when Makai Mason collected a loose ball on the scramble for an offensive rebound and hit a jumper in the lane.

Yale beat Harvard last Friday to clinch at least a share of its first league crown since 2002. But with a chance to secure the outright championship and the automatic NCAA berth, the Bulldogs were upset by Dartmouth in the regular-season finale the following night.

Before the game, both teams were presented with Ivy League championship trophies to hearty cheers from their own fans and lusty boos from the other side.


Yale: The Bulldogs were involved in another Ivy playoff at the Palestra after sharing the 2002 title with Penn and Princeton. But after beating Princeton in the first game of a three-game playoff, Yale was denied a trip to the NCAA tourney with a loss to Penn in Easton. ... Sears was just the second Yale player ever selected Ivy League Player of the Year and the first Paul Maley in 1987-88.

Harvard: Harvard is the first Ivy League team to reach four straight NCAA Tournaments since Princeton from 1989 to 1992. ... Mondou-Missi scored his 1,000th career point on an inside basket in the final minute of the first half. Harvard shot just 8 for 16 from the foul line.


Yale: Possible NIT, CBI or CIT bid.

Harvard: NCAA Tournament.

New York Sports