Men’s Basketball Surges Past Columbia on the Road, 77-69

Noah Kirkwood action photo
Photo Courtesy: Mike McLaughlin.
Play Video

NEW YORK – Harvard men's basketball surged past Columbia in the second half behind the performances of Rio Haskett and Chris Ledlum, and emerged with a 77-69 road victory inside Levien Gymnasium. Both Haskett and Ledlum came off the bench to score 19 and 15 points, respectively.

With the sweep of Columbia, Harvard improved to 19-7 overall and 8-3 in the Ivy League. Columbia, meanwhile, saw its record fall to 6-21 and 1-10 against conference competition.

The game started on a positive note with Justin Bassey knocking down a triple, but the Lions answered with five straight points to regain the lead. Despite the Crimson briefly leading shortly after that, Columbia slowly built a five-point advantage. The Lions moved ahead, 21-20, only to have Harvard go on a 6-0 run, which featured a pair of Haskett buckets and Bassey reverse layup.

The visitors eventually built their own five-point cushion, leading 32-27 with 1:42 left in the first half and finished the period with a 32-29 advantage. The half, however, did not end as positively as the scoreboard reflected as Christian Juzang suffered an injury with 50 seconds remaining after appearing to land awkwardly on a three-point attempt. The senior did not return.

Coming out of halftime, Harvard received a bucket from Noah Kirkwood and a three from Haskett to push its lead to eight points. Columbia's Mike Smith countered with a personal 8-0 run, which leveled the score at 37.

The teams exchanged baskets for four-plus minutes and a Smith field goal cut his team's deficit to three points. With Harvard up, 46-43, Haskett turned the game on its head and spurred a game-changing 12-4 run. The junior scored 10 of the Crimson's 12 points with Ledlum contributing the other pair.

Now leading, 58-47, with 6:43 left in the contest, Harvard kept the Lions at arm's distance despite Smith scoring 12 of Columbia's final 22 points and the visitors eventually earned the eight-point decision.

Harvard Notes
• The Crimson picked up its fifth straight victory, marking its second-longest winning streak of the campaign.
• Harvard has won six of its last seven games and two of its last three road games.
• The Crimson defeated Columbia for a fifth straight time and closed its all-time series deficit to 98-86.
• Harvard captures its 19th win of the season, equaling its 2018-19 total when it finished with a 19-12 record.
Rio Haskett set a career high for points (19), field goals (8), three-pointers (3; tied) in 24 minutes off the bench. The junior was 8-for-10 from the floor, including 3-for-4 from behind the arc.
Chris Ledlum finished with 15 points, six rebounds, career-high-tying two assists, two blocked shots and one steal in just over 26 minutes.
Justin Bassey compiled his first double-double of the season and the fifth of his career with 12 points and season-high 11 rebounds.
Chris Lewis totaled 10 points and five rebounds, and made all six attempts from the free throw line.
• Harvard's bench outscored Columbia's unit, 46-10. 

Up Next
Harvard returns to action on Saturday when it faces Cornell on the road. Game time is set for 6 p.m., with the contest airing on ESPN+.