SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Some people may have heard of the school that’s suddenly generating a bit of March Madness buzz.
Yep, Harvard —the school known for producing U.S. presidents, Supreme Court justices and Nobel Prize winners earned its first NCAA tournament victory Thursday night with a 68-62 upset of No. 3 seed New Mexico.
Wesley Saunders scored 18 points and Laurent Rivard made five 3-pointers to give 14th-seeded Harvard (20-9) its first tournament victory in only three measly trips.
“It’s unbelievable,” guard Christian Webster said. “We’re still in disbelief. This is as good as it gets for us right now.”
He had no doubt the scene at Harvard Square was as crazy as the one inside the Crimson locker room, where noise from Harvard’s postgame celebration carried down through the concourse.
The Crimson put the clamps on New Mexico’s Tony Snell, holding him to nine points on 4-of-12 shooting after he dominated in the Mountain West Conference tournament. They banged inside with Lobos big men Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk, whose 22 points provided New Mexico’s only consistent offense.
Mostly, they showed none of the jitters that marked their trip to the tournament last year, a 79-70 loss to Vanderbilt in the Crimson’s first NCAA appearance since 1946.
Rivard went 6 of 7 from 3-point range in that one — played on New Mexico’s home court in The Pit — and was clearly pumped for an encore against the Lobos themselves. He was 5 of 9 this time, with three coming in the first half, while Harvard was holding a small lead and, more importantly, answering every surge the Lobos (29-6) could muster. Rivard finished with 17 points.