West Region, second round: No. 14 Harvard 68, No. 3 New MExico 62: UA next for Crimson after ousting UNM

2013-03-22T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T12:09:24Z West Region, second round: No. 14 Harvard 68, No. 3 New MExico 62: UA next for Crimson after ousting UNMPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

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 pfinley@azstarnet.com or 573-4145. On Twitter @PatrickFinley

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
USC 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000

AP Top 25

Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Cal Poly Pomona at
11/6 8:00 pm
Azusa Pacific at
Washington State
11/7 12:00 am
Cal Poly Pomona at
11/9 4:00 pm
Mount St. Mary's at
11/14 6:00 pm
Coppin State at
11/14 10:00 pm
Detroit at
11/17 9:00 pm
Cal-Irvine at
11/19 7:00 pm
Oral Roberts at
Oregon State
11/21 7:00 pm
Texas-Pan American at
11/26 6:00 pm
Denver at
12/13 4:00 pm
Northern Colorado at
12/13 4:00 pm
Washington State at
Santa Clara
12/13 8:00 pm
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