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Harvard 70, Yale 58

Harvard clinches NCAA Tournament berth

Harvard's Siyani Chambers went for the basket as Yale’s Matt Townsend defended during the second half.

AP

Harvard's Siyani Chambers went for the basket as Yale’s Matt Townsend defended during the second half.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Siyani Chambers scored 17 points and Harvard became the first team to clinch a berth in this year’s NCAA tournament with a 70-58 win over arch-rival Yale on Friday night to capture the Ivy League title.

Steve Moundou-Missi added 16 points and Brandyn Curry chipped in with 14 for Harvard (25-4, 12-1), which won its seventh straight.

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Justin Sears had 28 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulldogs (15-12, 9-4).

Harvard, which had already secured at least a share of the Ivy title for the fourth straight year, will make its third straight trip to the NCAA tournament, after a drought that dated back to 1946.

The Crimson never trailed. They opened the game on a 16-2 run and led by as many as 17 in the second half.

Yale cut that to 59-51 on Brandon Sharrod’s free throw with 3½ minutes left after drawing Moundou-Missi’s fifth foul.

But Chambers answered with a 3-pointer on the other end. Another 3 by Laurent Rivard pushed the lead back to 12 at 65-53 and Yale was forced to foul.

Harvard shot 57 percent from the floor, while holding Yale to 36 percent. The Bulldogs missed all 14 of their attempts from 3-point range.

Harvard scored the game’s first nine points and held Yale without a field goal for better than four minutes. A layup from Sears broke the drought, but only interrupted the early Harvard run.

Sears, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds in Yale’s upset of Harvard last month, kept the Bulldogs within striking distance, scoring 13 first-half points. His dunk on a wrap-around feed from Brandon Sherrod cut the deficit to 27-19.

But back-to-back 3s from Brandyn Curry gave the Crimson a 36-23 lead at the half.

The Crimson stretched the lead to 48-31 early in the second half on a dunk by Wesley Saunders, who finished with nine points.

The Crimson’s 12 conference wins tie the program record it set in 2011 and 2012. Harvard had outscored Ivy League opponents by more than 16 points a game. Their only conference loss came to Yale, 74-67, in Cambridge on Feb. 8.

They are hoping to at least match last year’s NCAA tournament performance, where they upset third-seeded New Mexico in the first round.

Yale came into the game still clinging to its own title hopes. The Bulldogs would have had to sweep Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend, and also needed Harvard to lose Saturday at Brown. Even that would only have forced a one-game playoff.

Yale still leads the all-time series 116-74, but hasn’t had even a share of the conference title since 2002.

The loss leaves Yale coach James Jones one win shy of the school record. He is 205-220 in his 15 seasons in New Haven.

Curry and Kyle Casey missed last season after withdrawing from school amid a cheating scandal that involved more than 100 students. Casey greeted chants of ‘‘cheater’’ directed at him by saluting the Yale student section.

The smaller Harvard student section got the final laugh, chanting ‘‘This is our House’’ as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

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