SPOKANE, Wash. — Harvard went "yard" again in the NCAA tournament Thursday by scoring yet another first-weekend upset.
Or was it an upset?
The No. 12-seeded Crimson defeated No. 5 Cincinnati, 61-57, in a second-round East regional game at Spokane Arena. The win came a year after No. 14 Harvard took out No. 3 New Mexico, in Salt Lake City.
"There really aren't upsets anymore," Harvard Coach Tommy Amaker said. "There may be
The Crimson (27-4) will face the Michigan State-Delaware winner Saturday.
Harvard shot only 43% as a team and starting point guard Siyani Chambers made only two of 10 shots in 37 minutes.
Chambers, though, hit a key pull-up jumper and three clutch free throws in the final two minutes to help Harvard ward off the Bearcats.
Wesley Saunders, with lots of help from his teammates, did a good job holding Cincinnati superstar Sean Kilpatrick to only four second-half shot attempts.
Kilpatrick finished with a team-high 18 points, making six of 13 shots, but Harvard prevented him from, as Amaker put it, "just going berserk on us."
The other Bearcats couldn't take any of the pressure off Kilpatrick as they bricked shot after shot, some of them at point-blank range.
Bearcat forwards Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles were a combined eight-for-24 shooting.
"We just weren't able to make enough shots to loosen them up," Cincinnati Coach Mick Cronin said. "At the end of the day, we missed a lot of layups."
Cincinnati (27-7) still trailed by only three in the final minute and had the ball but, with 40 seconds left, Kilpatrick inexplicably lost his dribble and turned it back to Harvard. After shooting woefully from the line most of the game, the Crimson made five of its last six to seal the win.
Cincinnati shot only 36.8% for the game and had a tough time dealing with Harvard's thoughtful, methodical style.
"They're a high major team," Cronin said of Harvard. "They've got real players. They can play against anyone."
Harvard had five players with nine points or more, led by Saunders' 12.
The Ivy League champions improved this year with the addition of guard Brandyn Curry and forward Kyle Casey. The players, who combined for 14 points Thursday, were not a part of last year's run after being implicated in a campus-wide cheating scandal.
Curry left school and returned home to Huntersville, N.C., where he sold life insurance.
Casey returned home to Medway, Mass., and worked with a nonprofit organization for inner-city youth.
"The thing I learned from last year is that you just got to appreciate everything," Curry said. "It was great watching these guys getting the win last year and I was at home with my family, and that was a great moment. But it's definitely a lot better when you're actually here a part of it."