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Harvard edges Yale in thriller for Ivy League title

Mar 15, 2015 - 4:01 AM Philadelphia, PA ( - Steve Mondou-Missi's clutch jumper with 9.2 seconds to play was the difference as Harvard edged Yale, 53-51, to claim the Ivy League title and an NCAA Tournament bid Saturday at the Palestra.

Wesley Saunders finished with 22 points and Mondou-Missi scored 11 with nine rebounds for the Crimson (22-7), who became the first Ivy League team to reach the NCAA Tournament in four straight seasons since Princeton did so from 1989-92.

Justin Sears netted 13 points with five boards and three steals, while Javier Duren supplied 12 points and six rebounds for the Bulldogs (22-10), who last appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 1962.

"It was a great basketball game," Yale head coach James Jones said. "Both teams fought hard. Harvard made one more play than we did."

Following a Siyani Chambers turnover, the Bulldogs went ahead 49-48 on Makai Mason's jumper with 1:47 to play. Saunders gave the Crimson back the lead on a three-point play on the next possession.

After a pair of Duren free throws tied the game, Mondou-Missi took a dish from Saunders and provided the game-winning jumper inside of 10 seconds left. Duren's layup failed to roll in and Yale was unable to put in the rebound before time expired.

"I'm still speechless," said Saunders. "We were able to stay together and come out with the win."

Greg Kelley drained a 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs an early lead at 12-11, then an Armani Cotton dunk with 2:18 to play made it a four-point game. Yale led 27-23 at halftime on a Sears slam.

Saunders put Harvard ahead with nine straight points as his consecutive treys made it a 36-32 game with 13 minutes to play.

Travis continued the run by following his own miss with a layup and Saunders ended the 13-0 surge with a pair of free throws for a 40-32 advantage.

Yale answered right back with five unanswered points highlighted by Mason's contested layup which made it a 40-37 score with under nine minutes to play.

With over six minutes to play, Saunders hit a pair of jumpers around two Josh Travis free throws to restore Harvard's lead to 46-37.

Cotton knocked down a 3 and Duren made four from the charity stripe to get Yale within 48-47 with 2:48 minutes remaining.

Game Notes

The Crimson have won five straight Ivy League championships ... The two teams split the season series as Harvard won 52-50 on Feb. 7 and Yale won 62-52 on March 6 ... It was the ninth playoff in Ivy League history and first since Princeton defeated Harvard on a buzzer beater in 2011 ... The Crimson shot 43.5 percent and limited the Bulldogs to 39.5 percent.