PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Brandyn Curry and Harvard beat No. 22 Florida State at its own game Friday, locking up one of the nation’s best defensive teams with its own terrific defense.
Curry had six points, five assists, and five steals to help the Crimson upset the Seminoles 46-41 in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game like that,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “I find it hard to see how we were able to come out on top against a nationally ranked, outstanding defensive team in Florida State.”
Oliver McNally and Wesley Saunders had seven points apiece for the Crimson (5-0), who are coming off the first Ivy League title in school history last season.
The Seminoles (5-1) missed their first 15 shots. Michael Snaer led the way for Florida State with 10 points.
“We got beat by a team today that was much hungrier than we were,” coach Leonard Hamilton said. “They played a much more aggressive game, they showed an awful lot of toughness, and they executed their system a lot better than we executed our system.”
Curry keyed the victory with his solid play down the stretch.
“Brandyn is our best playmaker,” Amaker said. “He’s the guy that we need to make plays for our ballclub, and certainly we needed every one of them today.”
The halftime score was 14-14, matching the lowest total for a half in a Division I game since 1986. Ole Miss (15) and South Carolina (13) also combined for 28 points in the first half of their game on Jan. 8, 2003. The Seminoles were 5 for 24 from the field in the first half, and Harvard went 3 for 23.
Snaer’s layup gave the Seminoles a 24-23 lead with 9:48 left, but Harvard countered with an 8-0 run. Laurent Rivard hit a key 3-pointer and Steve Moundou-Missi capped the spurt with a layup.
Florida State pulled within three on Bernard James’ layup with 2:33 remaining, but Curry made a 3 from the left corner on a jump pass from Rivard.
“I just called for it,” Curry said. “(Rivard) made a great play in changing from his shot to finding me in the corner. Coach just says, ‘Step up and hit our shots.’ He preaches that all the time.”
The junior guard then stripped James in the paint and hit two free throws to make it 42-34 with 43 seconds left.
“I was just trying to get the ball back,” Curry said. “Luckily, I was able to hit the ball without the foul.”
Keith Wright had eight rebounds to help the Crimson outrebound the Seminoles 40-30. Harvard also went 17 for 24 from the free throw line, compared to 4 for 10 for FSU.
“We really dug in, and we had to,” Amaker said. “We had to fight, scrap, and claw. They’re long, they’re athletic and very talented. I thought we needed a group effort on the defensive end, especially when the ball got up on the backboard. . Our kids took it to heart — the scouting report and preparation — and certainly believed in the things we talked about. I’m so proud of them for being able to win a game like this against an opponent like that.”
Florida State, which shot 12 for 23 in the second half, will face No. 4 Connecticut in the consolation game on Saturday.