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Harvard 59, Central Florida 59: Crimson Prove Defense Wins Championships, Even in Basketball

Harvard entered the Battle 4 Atlantis as a darkhorse who critics expected to potentially compete for a spot in the finals. Tommy Amaker's contigent will leave with the hardware after holding their third consecutive opponent to 49 points or less in a 59-49 victory over Central Florida in the tournament's championship game.

The Crimson jumped out to an 8-1 lead and never allowed the Knights to get closer than five, as they improved to 6-0 on the season. Central Florida (4-2) shot just 33 percent from the field and 1-of-11 from the 3-point line as the Crimson defense proved they could stop anyone, including the progeny of Michael Jordan.

Forwards Kyle Casey and Keith Wright dominated the paint leading the Crimson with 27 points and 16 rebounds between them. While Harvard struggled offensively compared to their first two games in the Bahamas, they took 35 free throws and hit 23 of them, compared to just 8-of-23 shooting from the Knights.

Casey finished with a game-high 15 points and nine rebounds and hit seven of his 12 free throw attempts. A day after coming up with a huge comeback against UConn, Central Florida could never mount a serious fight against Harvard. The Knights struggled to find any kind of offensive rhythm, settling for long jump shots. Leading scorers Keith Clanton and Marcus Jordan finished with 12 and 10 points respectively but hit just 9-of-31 shots.

For the second game in a row, the Crimson held an opponent without a field goal for over five minutes to begin the game. Christian Webster knocked down two 3-pointers to give the Crimson an 8-1 lead at the first media timeout. Showing no signs of fatigue in the first half, Harvard hit 54 percent of their shots and took a 33-18 lead into the break. Struggling to put together a repeat performance, the Knights hit just 25 percent of their attempts and trailed by as many as 17.

Central Florida cut the deficit to as few as nine late in the game but never seriously challenged. Every time the Knights would mount a small rally, Harvard's defense would clamp down and force a poor shot or come up with a key basket inside.

The Crimson will continue their season-long six-game road trip with a road game at Vermont Thursday night at 7 p.m.