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harvard 80, columbia 47

Crimson closer to icing Ivy title

Harvard guard Brandyn Curry (10) is the first to greet Laurent Rivard (0), who was knocked down while scoring.

aram boghosian for the globe

Harvard guard Brandyn Curry (10) is the first to greet Laurent Rivard (0), who was knocked down while scoring.

Siyani Chambers didn’t even cross halfcourt.

He saw Steve Moundou-Missi streaking down the right side of the floor in front of the Harvard bench and let fly a long lob pass.

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Moundou-Missi climbed the stairs to grab it and lay it in off the backboard.

Columbia coach Kyle Smith called a timeout, but Harvard had already sped off with all the momentum.

Chambers just stood in the middle of the floor with one finger in the air, pointing at Moundou-Missi, whose basket put Harvard ahead by 16 in the first half.

The long-distance hookup was as good an example as any of how easily things came to the Crimson in their 80-47 win over Columbia that clinched at least a share of the Ivy League crown for the fourth straight season.

They shot 60 percent from the field, drilled 8 of 13 3-pointers, missed just two of 20 free throws, won the glass, and held Columbia to 34 percent shooting.

The win was Harvard’s sixth straight and 24th this season, the second most in program history.

It also gave the Crimson (24-4, 11-1) a two-game lead over Yale with two games left. Harvard travels to New Haven on Friday.

Laurent Rivard matched his season high with six 3-pointers on his way to 21 points, Moundou-Missi went 7 of 9 from the floor and finished with 16 points, and Wesley Saunders stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists.

It all added up to Harvard’s third 30-point win over an Ivy League opponent this season.

Coming in, Columbia hadn’t won at Lavietes Pavillion since 2008. And after Harvard opened the game with 8 straight points, it felt like the night would be one long Crimson run.

Midway through the first half, Columbia was in a 22-4 ditch.

All eight of the Lions’ first-half turnovers came in those first 10 minutes. They found every imaginable way to hand the ball to Harvard — backcourt violations, traveling, offensive fouls, bad passes — killing more than half of their possessions before they ever got off the ground.

The Crimson took advantage of those extra possessions by starting the game 7 for 11 from the floor.

Between Kyle Casey taking off from the middle of the lane for a two-handed dunk and Moundou-Missi turning a wraparound pass from Chambers into a 3-point play, Harvard kept stacking the straws of frustration on the back of Columbia’s coach.

At 14:06, with his team walking the ball up the floor after another Moundou-Missi layup, Smith took the chance to have words with referee Cary Pucino and was hit with a technical foul.

Putting Rivard on the free throw line to nail two shots didn’t help Columbia’s cause.

By the time Columbia finally got its engine running on offense, it was too late.

The Lions went into the half trailing, 39-26, and made it a 10-point game three minutes into the second half on a layup from Maodo Lo, but the Crimson outscored them, 20-6, over the next six minutes.

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.
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