In search of its first NCAA tournament berth since 1946, the Harvard men’s basketball team suffered a devastating one-point loss in yesterday afternoon’s Ivy League playoff after Princeton’s Douglas Davis sank a fadeaway jumper with 0.2 seconds to play.
With the Tigers down one and 2.8 seconds left to determine the recipient of the Ancient Eight’s automatic bid, Princeton coach Sydney Johnson designed a play for Davis coming out of a timeout.
Davis ran off a screen, caught the pass in the left corner, took two dribbles to his right, and let a 15-foot leaner fly that sailed through the net as the clock expired, securing the Tigers the 63-62 win at Yale’s John J. Lee Amphitheater and a spot in their 24th NCAA tournament.
“I got a good screen from Will Barret, and originally I thought they were going to deny me the ball, but I was able to get open,” said Davis. “I took a couple dribbles and was able to fade. It felt good and it went in.”
The Crimson, which captured a share of its first Ivy League championship in its regular season finale against the Tigers last Saturday, was seeking its first NCAA tournament appearance in 64 years.
And with the Crimson up by six, 50-44, with 9:06 to play, it looked like Harvard was on track to punch its ticket to the dance. But a 7-0 Princeton run over the next 3:16 of play – fueled by five points from Davis – gave the Tigers a one-point edge.
The Crimson regained the lead with 1:01 to play after Harvard’s sophomore Kyle Casey drove hard to the basket and finished a lefty layup. But Princeton’s Ian Hummer answered on the other end, finishing at the basket with 38 ticks remaining to put the Tigers ahead, 61-60.
The Crimson ran the clock down to under 20 seconds then swung the ball around the perimeter to Christian Webster. Webster found Brandyn Curry open under the basket for a two-foot floater, putting the Crimson up one with 11 seconds to play.