Raleigh, NC – The NC State men’s basketball team defeated Harvard 78-77 Sunday night at James T. Valvano Arena at Reynolds Coliseum.
The win advances the Pack to the NIT quarterfinals where it will meet Lipscomb on Wednesday evening. The game is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. inside Reynolds Coliseum.
Displaying a balanced scoring attack, NC State had five players record double digits. C.J. Bryce and Devon Daniels led the way with 16 and 14 points respectively. Markell Johnson (13), Braxton Beverly (10), and Torin Dorn (10) rounded out double-figure scoring.
With the Pack up two in the final seconds, Beverly forced a crucial turnover to give NC State possession. Bryce calmly knocked down two free throws after being fouled to give the Pack a four point lead with 7.1 seconds to play. Rio Haskett’s banked-in a running three-pointer to pull the Crimson within one with 2.5 seconds remaining, but on the ensuing in-bounds play Harvard could not reach Johnson to foul him and he was able to dribble the clock out.
NC State’s defensive prowess proved the deciding factor in the contest, as NC State created 23 points on 17 Harvard turnovers. Tying its season low in the turnover category, the Pack took care of the ball, recording only seven turnovers.
Attacking the glass in the second half after being outrebounded 20-11 in the first half, NC State earned 14 second-chance points on 13 offensive boards in the final 20 minutes.
The game was tied at 61 with 8:53 to go, but the Pack scored seven of the next nine points to take a 68-63 lead on a Daniels lay-up with 5:15. Harvard would cut the lead to one point multiple times in the final minutes, but could never even the score again.
Beverly led the way for the team in the second half, scoring all 10 of his points in the final 20 minutes. After sitting out all but five minutes in the first half with two fouls, Johnson came alive in the second half with eight points in the first four and a half minutes.
Harvard held a 39-38 lead at the break, but never led by more than two points in the second half as a majority of the final 20 minutes was played with the score at a one possession game.
The game ended with 15 lead changes and nine ties. Noah Kirkwood and Bryce Aiken recorded 19 points to lead the Crimson in scoring.
The Pack moves to 24-11 and Harvard finishes its season at 19-12.
Up Next: NC State will Lipscomb on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. inside Valvano Arena at Reynolds Coliseum.
Post Game Comments
NC STATE HEAD COACH KEVIN KEATTS
“What another incredible game. I thought our guys responded. Coming in, I knew we were going
to play against a very good team with a very good player on it, talking about Bryce Aiken. When
I watched the Georgetown game, I knew those guys were really good. The way they spread out
and the way they run a lot of ball screens, and stay in motion, and they have a legitimate post
player that can score inside. We went into the game saying that we were going to have a
chance to win the game if we played well against Aiken, and that he would have to have a bad
percentage to get his points. He took 18 shots with 19 points. We were able to force him into six
“So many guys played well. My veteran guys are starting to get it. We’ve said that basketball in
March is about the players and not the coaches. We can give you a game plan, but you are
going to have to go out there and execute and play. I thought our guys made some tremendous
strides, especially in the second half. We finished with 17 offensive rebounds and we got to the
free throw line. We didn’t make as many as I wanted to, but we were good and aggressive at
On the game as a whole
“It was a great game. I had fun with it and I was excited. Because we played at 7:30 p.m. on a
Sunday, we just did a shootaround at seven o’clock. I had the chance to watch a lot of games
today. The last game I watched was Clemson vs. Wichita State. They were all great games,
both the NCAA and NIT games. Watching those games made me excited about our games
because I felt like we had a great opportunity. “
On second-half rebounding
“We started going to the offensive glass. There was one segment that we gave up three
offensive rebounds on the other end. Finally, we stopped trying to out-jump guys and started
hitting people. We aren’t the biggest team, so we have to rebound as a team and hit people. We
starting hitting people on the defensive end. Our guys were aggressive on the offensive glass,
and the rebounding really fueled us. Wyatt Walker had a great offensive rebound and a kick out.
A little bit about Devon: he played well today because he had two really great practices where
he was as locked in as he has been since he’s been here. I have to give credit to all of our guys.
They have all been locked in and loose when they need to be, but focused when they have to
On the crowd tonight
“It has been great. We talk all the time about how great it is in Reynolds, but I don’t want to
cheapen our fans. At PNC they do a great job too. It gets loud in there and is a great place to
play. We are excited to have a chance to play on campus right now, but we have a tremendous
fan base. I know a lot of people wanted us to be in the NCAA no more than we did, but when we
got chosen to go the NIT, everybody showed up for us, and we are happy about that.”
On the level of competition in NIT
“The two teams that we have played could easily win a game in the NCAA, and so could we.
We played two teams that were champions in their leagues. When you get to the NIT and guys
that were conference champions, you are playing against great teams. I have to be honest with
you, as I watched tapes on Hofstra and Harvard, I knew we were going to be playing against
great teams. Fortunately for them, they both had really good guards.”
On playing in Reynolds one more time
“I am excited to play another chance at home. It worked out for us because in our bracket the
number one seed was UNCG and they ended up losing. It is fortunate for us because we have
another chance to play at home.”
On game plan for prep
“I am going to go meet with the staff and we are going to put together a game plan for the next
few days and figure out what we need to do. My biggest concern is to make sure these guys are
fresh on Wednesday night.”
On the game
“It was a fun game. It’s just another game for us, and we’re glad to be able to move on and
continue to play basketball.”
On his offensive performance
“I feel pretty good, but that’s not what it’s all about. I feel like I’ve really picked it up on the
defensive end and on rebounding to help contribute to my team out there.”
On the NIT
“They were two very competitive teams. Everybody wants to win at this point. It’s still Division I
basketball. I am just looking forward to the next game, and we know that Lipscomb is going to
come out very competitive also.”
On Bryce Aiken
“I just tried to stick to my principles. I didn’t try to get my hands in there. He has a really good
game, and is very crafty with his off arm. I felt like when I forced him to his left, his weak side,
and stayed down, I thought I did a pretty good job. He’s a great competitor though, so it was
On being locked in at practice
“I just tried to step it up for my teammates. It’s March. Any of these games could be our last
game, and I’m just trying to help the team win. I focused on the scouting report, just trying to
learn their team. With stuff like that I feel like I can help my teammates during the game.”
On the NIT’s level of competition
I think coach said earlier today: “When it’s tournament time, it doesn’t really matter what
conference the team comes from or what the name of the team is. Players are coming out there
to compete; they’re artists. Every game we have to bring it.”’
HARVARD HEAD COACH TOMMY AMAKER
“It was a really though loss for us. This is an amazing environment. This is my first time being
here in many years and seeing how this has transformed– I thought the energy with the crowd
was such a boost for their kids. Kevin Keatts has done such a wonderful job with how they play.
They’re very hard to defend. We couldn’t really guard them off the bounce, and certainly in the
second half I thought how much they got on the backboard made a huge difference. I was proud
of our kids for the effort we put forth and making this an interesting game. It went all the way
down to the wire, but it was not enough to beat a really good basketball team in this building and
in this environment.”
On Noah Kirkwood’s foul trouble
“I thought that was a big factor on our end. He’s such an integral part of everything we do, in
particular, offensively. In a game like this we need his ability to playmake. He’s a ball handler for
us in addition to a playmaker, and with Bryce Aiken being that mean guy for us we needed the
second guy. Kirkwood’s been that for us all season. Not having him really hurt us.”
On the difference in free throws between the halves
“No, I didn’t know that breakdown. I haven’t had a chance to really study the stats. The only
thing I did notice when I looked at the sheet was how many more offensive rebounds they had
in the second half. I didn’t realize the difference in the free throw shooting, but certainly for us to
have a chance is to be able to use the foul line. We were able to do that in the first half.”
On Harvard’s season
“I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish this year. We didn’t do all that we wanted, but we
certainly were able to accomplish a lot with what we went through with injuries and different
things within our team.
“Winning the regular season in our conference was a significant achievement and losing in the
conference tournament championship was a big blow. Receiving a bid for the NIT was such an
honor for us, as was winning our first game. Once we get the chance to really reflect and digest
it all I think we’ll feel like we accomplished a lot, but not as much as we wanted.”
On returning players and how this season impacts next season
“Well we’re hoping. Things always look a certain way on paper and they looked that way a year
ago for us. We never had the player of the year, Seth Towns, who didn’t play for us at all this
year, being injured. We’re hopeful. I’m sure that these guys will have an energy and an attitude
throughout the whole offseason and hopefully through the fall that will allow us to try to get
better and do the best that we can.
“We always talk about just feeling good about us. I think that if we put in the effort and the
commitment to get better, we have a good chance of feeling good about us when it’s all said
and done at the end of next year.”
On where the Ivy League is right now
“I think we have a tremendous conference. When you look around our league and see the kind
of play that many of our teams, if not all of our teams, are exhibiting at this point, we’re very
competitive. We’ve been one of the better leagues in terms of how close the games are in our
conference, the margin of victory, and the overtime games. Our league is very competitive from
top to bottom. It’s nice that we’re getting the recognition now. I think it’s been that way for quite
some time– at least my time in the Ivy League– but I think we’re starting to get the recognition
that we’ve deserved for awhile. I’m really happy, and happy for our conference, and happy or
our other teams that have made that happen.”