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College basketball: Michigan State holds off Harvard in East Region

Published March 23, 2014 2:56 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Spokane, Wash. • For 18 seconds, it was happening. Harvard owned basketball, too.

Laurent Rivard made a 3-pointer from the corner, flashed his 3-point goggles toward an unhinged group of Crimson fans and ran down the court. The Ivy Leaguers had overcome a 16-point deficit to take a two-point lead over a Michigan State team that always comes up big at March Madness.

The next time down the court, Travis Trice came back with a 3 to put the Spartans back in the lead. A few minutes later, Michigan State was out of danger — not by much, though — on the way to an 80-73 victory that put basketball back in a more familiar, but arguably less-scintillating orbit.

Led by a career-high 26 points from Branden Dawson, the fourth-seeded Spartans (28-8) moved onto the Sweet 16 for the 12th time in the last 17 seasons. They'll play Virginia or Memphis next Friday at Madison Square Garden.

Nobody will ever take Harvard hoops lightly again, and Michigan State certainly wasn't doing that in this entertaining, back-and-forth adrenaline-fest.

Over a span of 7 minutes, 31 seconds, Harvard (28-5) didn't just whittle away at the 16-point deficit, they wailed away at it.

The comeback started with a pair of 3-pointers by Brandyn Curry and continued relentlessly. Harvard, coming off the second tournament win in school history two nights earlier, grabbed almost every loose ball, kept hands in Michigan State's flustered faces. Steve Moundou-Missi, the 6-foot-7 forward who was supposed to contain Michigan State's 6-10 power player, Adreian Payne, simply outplayed him.

Connecticut 77, Villanova 65 • In Buffalo, N.Y., Shabazz Napier scored 25 points in leading Connecticut over second-seeded Villanova.

Villanova became the highest seed to be knocked out of the tournament so far, and the Wildcats' loss came on the heels of another upset in Buffalo. The game was played immediately after Dayton, the South Region's 11th seed, beat third-seeded Syracuse 55-53.

Seventh-seeded Connecticut (28-8) advanced to New York City next week, when they'll play the winner of Sunday's third-round game between third-seeded Iowa State and sixth-seeded North Carolina.

Ryan Arcidiacono scored 18 points for Villanova (29-5) in a matchup of two former Big East rivals.

UConn coach Kevin Ollie improved to 2-0 in his tournament debu.