NEW YORK - Levien Gymnasium was rocking with 2,702 fans packed to the rafters who ended up seeing a great Ivy League game. One team, Harvard, was playing to stay tie in a virtual tie with Penn atop the Ivy League. The other team, Columbia, was playing for pride. In the end, Harvard made enough shots in overtime to gain a cushion and eventually defeated the Lions 77-70 on Friday night.
The Crimson shot 75 percent from the field in the first half, hitting 12 of its first 16 shots. Seven Harvard turnovers and Columbia's 52.4 percent shooting in the first half helped keep the Lions in the game as the score was Harvard 34, Columbia 30 at halftime.
The Crimson led 40-34 at the 17:21 mark of the second half before Columbia made a run. A jumper by Brian Barbour made it a four-point game then Barbour found Chris Crockett for a deep three-pointer to bring the Lions within one, 40-39.
Mark Cisco then scored on consecutive inside moves sandwiched around a Keith Wright layup and Barbour finished off the 11-2 run with his patented jumper in the lane to give Columbia a 45-42 advantage with 13:58 to play.
Harvard eventually regained the lead, 48-47 on an Oliver McNally jumper and led by six, 59-53 with four minutes left.
Cory Osetkowski banked in a three-pointer from the top of the key to cut the deficit to three and with the crowd buzzing and Harvard ahead by four, Cisco scored inside to make it a two-point game with 1:30 left.
After a Harvard turnover, Barbour drove the lane with the shot clock winding down and converted a difficult interior layup around the Crimson's big men to tie the game at 62-62.
Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker called his last timeout and called up a final play with 23 seconds left. After the Crimson passed it around the perimeter with seconds to play, McNally's long three against Columbia's 2-3 zone went just long as the game entered the extra session.
Kyle Casey scored first for Harvard on a short jumper and Columbia came up empty on its first three possessions of overtime. Laurent Rivard followed by hitting a three in front of Harvard's bench to put the Crimson up five with two minutes left.
Cisco answered with a baseline jumper to make it a 67-64 game but Casey responded with a triple to put Harvard ahead by six, essentially sealing the victory for the visitors.
"Nothing to hang our heads about," head coach Kyle Smith said after the game. "It was a good effort."
Barbour led all scorers with 23 points and five assists in just under 45 minutes of action. Cisco added 12 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots while Columbia rookies Cory Osetkowski and Alex Rosenberg chipped in with 10 points apiece.
"We played well tonight," Smith added. "That was a good team that we played."
Harvard was led by 19 points by Casey and 16 points by Wright. McNally added 12, boosted by seven of eight from the foul line in overtime.
Columbia is back in action on Saturday, March 3 in its season finale vs. Dartmouth at 7 p.m.
Former Harvard guard and current New York Knick Jeremy Lin was in attendance at Levien Gym on Friday night, along with filmmaker Spike Lee ... Harvard (11-2) and Penn (10-2) each won on Friday night as the two remained tied in the loss column going into Saturday night's games ... the game was Columbia's second overtime game in three weeks ... there were 11 lead changes and four ties ... the Lions shot 60 percent in the second half and 50.9 percent for the game ... Columbia committed just nine turnovers ... the Lions are the third team to score 70 points against Harvard this season ... Osetkowski matched his career high with 10 points ... Rosenberg added five rebounds and two blocked shots ... Harvard made 17 of 20 from the free throw line ... Columbia made eight of 13 ... Saturday's game vs. Dartmouth is Senior Night at Levien Gym, when seniors Chris Crockett, Steve Egee, Matt Johnson and Blaise Staab will play their final home game in a Columbia uniform.