The Harvard players celebrate the first NCAA tournament win in school history. The Crimson shot 52.4 percent from the field to defeat No. 3 seed New Mexico in the final game of the day in Salt Lake City.


SALT LAKE CITY - Before Thursday night, Harvard could claim eight U.S. presidents and zero NCAA tournament wins.

Make that 8 to 1.

The 14th-seeded Crimson stunned No. 3 New Mexico 68-62 at EnergySolutions Arena to advance to play the Arizona Wildcats at 3:10 p.m. Saturday.

In Harvard's third-ever NCAA tournament appearance - and only second since 1946 - it claimed its first win.

"Unbelievable," guard Christian Webster, who scored 11 points, said. "We're still in disbelief."

Guard Wesley Saunders, the Crimson's leading scorer with 18 points, called the win "the type of thing you dream about when you're in your backyard playing around and imagining this happening."

In front of 14,345 fans, Harvard notched the greatest moment in program history.

"It means the world to us, a significant moment for us, to be in this position," coach Tommy Amaker said.

The game was equally nightmarish for the 29-6 Lobos, who were ranked No. 10 in the nation and whose fans hoped for their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1974.

UNM shot 37.5 percent and made only 3 of 14 three-point attempts. Coach Steve Alford sensed that this week "was the first time this group had probably been patted on the back" and that they suffered from it.

UNM center Alex Kirk, who led all scorers with 22 points, said the Crimson (20-9) "came out and they punched us first … it hurts, but congrats to them."

The Ivy League champions never trailed in the first half and led by four at the break. The Lobos took a two-point lead 1 minute 13 seconds into the second half. Harvard scored 12 seconds later, and would either lead or tie until the Lobos' Jamal Fenton made a three-pointer with 7:53 to go.

The teams traded leads until the Crimson took an eight-point edge with 2:17 to play, capped by Siyani Chambers' jump shot.

"I mentioned to our players that people root for underdogs, but they follow top dogs," Amaker said. "I thought that was one of the things that allowed us to gain momentum in this particular game."

It marked the Ivy League's third Big Dance win since 1998.

"They made shots," Alford said of Harvard, which shot 52.4 percent. "I don't know how else to say it. They just did."

Amaker said he thought the Crimson needed to play well, but also get some help from UNM, the only ranked team it played all year, to win.

"We have to play very well and have to get some help by them, to not play as well," he said.

The Crimson's reward: a Saturday matchup against the sixth-seeded Wildcats.

"I have not seen much of them, seen some film and a little bit of (Thursday's) game," Amaker said. "Off the top of my head, I can't imagine any team being as talented as they are. I think they're very deep and very talented. … I'm not sure they have weaknesses, based on what I've been able to see."

For at least the rest of Thursday, though, Harvard was content to bask in a magical moment.

"We can't believe it's happened," Webster said. "This is as good as it gets for us right now."

Contact reporter Patrick Finley at or 573-4145. On Twitter @PatrickFinley