Douglas Davis hit a jump shot at the buzzer to give Princeton University a 63-62 win over Harvard University and a berth in the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament after a six-year absence.
Harvard, which claimed a share of its first Ivy League title this season, was trying to reach the tournament for the first time since 1946.
Davis scored 15 points as the Tigers (25-6) clinched the Ivy League’s automatic berth in the 68-team NCAA tournament. Harvard (23-6) and Princeton tied for the Ivy League title with 12-2 conference records.
“I was able to get open, took a couple dribbles, felt good, went in, then fell on the ground which was the worst decision I ever made because everyone jumped on me,” Davis said during last night’s postgame news conference.
Harvard went on a 14-5 run at the end of the first half to take a 32-25 lead at the break.
“I don’t think that we played very hard in the first half,” said Princeton coach Sydney Johnson. “In the second, we played with emotion.”
Davis’s 3-point shot with five minutes, 20 seconds left in the game put Princeton ahead 51-50. The teams then traded leads in the final minute as Ian Hummer gave Princeton a 61-60 advantage with 37 seconds left. Harvard’s Brandyn Curry made it 62-61 with 10 seconds left before Davis scored as time expired.
“It was a dagger, your heart just sinks, certainly a tough moment for all of us, but congratulations to them,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said during his postgame press conference.
Amaker hopes Harvard is one of 32 teams to get a bid for the National Invitation Tournament, which begins March 15 and ends March 31 with the championship at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Keith Wright was the high-scorer for the Crimson with 16 points.
The one-game playoff today was held on a neutral court at Yale University’s Lee Amphitheater in New Haven, Connecticut, equidistant from the campuses in Princeton, New Jersey, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Tigers have won or shared 26 Ivy League titles and reached the NCAA semifinals in 1965. Princeton’s previous trip to the tournament was in 2004. Harvard has made one trip to the NCAA tournament, losing its only two games in 1946 -- one a consolation contest.
Princeton, which has had 12 Nobel Prize winners on its faculty, has sent two players to the Basketball Hall of Fame -- Bill Bradley and coach Pete Carril.
Harvard, whose faculty has won 34 Nobel Prizes, has produced more U.S. presidents (eight) than NBA players (four), according to the school.
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