NEW YORK – Columbia fought tooth and nail against Harvard, which ended the night in first place in the Ivy League. But the Lions could not muster a consistent offensive attack throughout the game, ultimately dropping a 61-42 decision to the Crimson in front of a packed house of 2,616 fans at Levien Gymnasium.
Despite a spirited atmosphere from the start, Harvard jumped out to an early 9-0 lead before Columbia scored a bucket by Asenso Ampim down low to get on the board. Noruwa Agho made it 18-12 Harvard on a corner jumper at the 6:42 mark as the Lions stayed in the game thanks to tenacious defense that forced nine Harvard turnovers in the first half.
The Crimson opened up a 29-16 on a long three-pointer by Oliver McNally with 2:19 left but the Lions scored the last four points of the half on a steal and coast-to-coast layup by Ampim and a tough floater by Brian Barbour to slice its deficit to 29-20 at halftime.
After Max Craig's basket opened the scoring in the second half to make it 29-22, Harvard countered with a 10-2 run to take a 15-point advantage with 13:21 remaining.
Columbia stayed in the game, scoring the next five points on a Barbour trifecta and a thunderous dunk by Ampim on a feed from Barbour to make it a 39-29 game, and subsequently elicited a huge roar from the student section on Greek Spirit Night.
After a Harvard timeout, the Crimson stemmed the tide by going on an 8-2 run over the next two minutes to push its lead back to 16 points. Harvard never led by fewer than 14 points the rest of the way.
Harvard's Keith Wright finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots while McNally chipped in with 15 points and six rebounds. Barbour and Craig led the Lions with eight points apiece.
With a record of 14-10 and 5-5 in Ivy League play, the Lions will travel to Penn on Friday, February 25 for a 7 p.m. game at the Palestra.
Columbia was without two key players in the front court, Mark Cisco and John Daniels, each of whom missed the game due to injury ... Meiko Lyles made the first start of his collegiate career ... Max Craig made his first start since December ... Harvard made all 18 of its free throws in the game ... at 9-1 in the Ivy League, Harvard moves a half game ahead of Princeton for first place ... the Tigers lost at Brown on Saturday night, 75-65 ... Zack Crimmins came off the bench to score six first-half points for Columbia.