SALT LAKE CITY — Christian Webster helped prolong his career by scoring 11 points in Harvard’s history-making 68-62 victory over third-seeded New Mexico Thursday in the second round of the NCAA West Regional at EnergySolutions Arena.
He had even made some history himself, too, surpassing 1,000 career points on his first 3-pointer against the Lobos.
But Saturday, Webster’s run as the Crimson’s lone senior came to an end with a 74-51 loss to sixth-seeded Arizona. He was held to 8 points on 3-of-10 shooting.
“My teammates and my coaches believing all year and — not to keep harping on it — but all the adversity we went through this year, for my senior year, for these guys to buy in like they did and for us to have the great year that we did . . . We accomplished all our goals this year,’’ he said.
After projected senior cocaptains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry withdrew from school, Webster stepped up along with junior Laurent Rivard to fill the leadership void.
“This season has obviously been great for us,’’ said sophomore forward Steve Moundou-Missi, who scored 9 points, all in the first half. “We didn’t end the way we wanted to end, but it’s all about the journey and not the destination. It was a great year, and I really feel bad for Christian right now. It’s his senior year. He’s been a great leader for us throughout the year and we’re just proud of him.’’
Said Webster: “We have nothing to be ashamed of. We went out with our heads held high and that’s all that really matters.’’
Sophomore forward Kenyatta Smith, the lone Crimson player to score in double figures (10 points) against Arizona, seemed to blossom in the NCAA tourney, gaining experience and confidence.
“We need him to keep developing,’’ said coach Tommy Amaker. “Last year, he didn’t play a lot, to this year where he had some big moments to get to this point. So I think you’ve seen a lot of growth in his game and confidence growing as well. So the next step is to continue that and become more consistent.
“That’s what we’re looking for in some of the younger players, the sophomore group in particular, to become more of a consistent class.’’
Wesley Saunders, who averaged a team-high 16.5 points this season, was bothered by Arizona’s size in the frontcourt and was held to 8 points on 1-for-11 shooting. “He had a lot of opportunities to get to the rim,’’ Amaker said. “But they’re 7-foot, 6-9, 6-11, 6-8 around the rim and in front of the rim and it made it difficult to finish. Wesley’s our best finisher and he didn’t finish.’’ . . . Harvard scored 11 points in the first 14 minutes 44 seconds of play and 11 points over the final 5:16 . . . Harvard shot a season-low 25 percent (7 of 28) in the first half. Its previous first-half low was 26.1 percent (6 for 23) in a 75-72 loss at Penn March 2 . . . Harvard dropped to 0-3 against Arizona. The Wildcats improved to 7-2 in NCAA games in Salt Lake City.
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.