NEW HAVEN — As loud as it was inside Payne Whitney Gym Saturday night, the three-pointer Harvard freshman guard Bryce Aiken splashed in from the deep corner falling into the Crimson bench was louder.
And there was nothing but stunning silence when he cashed in the free throw following the foul on the shot.
"That three-point play was the play of the game," Yale coach James Jones said.
It sure was. Harvard never looked back afterward. And Aiken was the player of the game.
He finished with a career-high 27 points including 3 of 5 on three-pointers in leading Harvard to a 75-67 thriller before 2,532.
"For my first time playing in the Harvard-Yale game, this was a great, great win," Aiken said. "It was a great win for our team."
For Yale, the loss was a double blow. The Bulldogs' 21-game home winning streak, fifth-longest in the country, is now over. They saw the Crimson put up an uncharacteristic 30 three-point shots and make 12 (40 percent). Yale (3 of 16 from three) couldn't keep up from long distance.
Nobody mentioned the streak, though. For Yale, it's their first home loss in two years. Most teams could probably live with that.
And somebody had to lose this one, but it was a great game.
"What a Saturday night ballgame here in the Ivy League," said Crimson coach Tommy Amaker, whose team was swept by the Bulldogs last season but shared the conference crown with the Bulldogs two years ago.
The loss also stopped a five-game winning streak for Yale and was the first weekend sweep of the season for Harvard — the Ivy League plays its games only Friday and Saturday.
Both teams are 14-7 and 6-2 in the Ivy League and they're right at the top in terms of qualifying for the conference's first postseason tournament, which will take the top four finishers next month at the Palestra in Philadelphia.
The rematch is Feb.24 at Harvard.
Siyani Chambers had 16 points and Corey Johnson added 12 for the Crimson. The Harvard big men weren't nearly as effective inside, but in the second half, they were a problem for Yale on the defensive end.
Sophomore Alex Copeland came off the bench to score 20 and lead Yale. He and Aiken were going at each other at times. It was fun to watch as Copeland can get to the rim against anybody.
Senior forward Sam Downey had 12 points and 11 rebounds in the first half for Yale and finished with 15 and 14. The Bulldogs, who also got 11 points from Miye Oni, needed more.
If the first half belonged to Downey — and it did as he led Yale to a 36-31 lead — the second clearly belonged to Aiken, who was coming off scoring 23 in a 10-point win at Brown Friday night .
"He's got an ability to make shots from the outside and also drive it to the rim," Jones said. "He got it going a little bit, very good player. We fouled him nine times [he made eight]. He got to the free throw line."
Behind Aiken, the Crimson was able to pull away behind the three-pointer. Aiken's four-point play gave Harvard a 55-53 lead. Johnson's trey gave the Crimson a 66-61 lead with 4:35 to go and Chambers, just about a minute later, boosted the lead to 69-61. And Chambers' layup gave Harvard the largest lead in the game — 10 points — at 71-61 with 2:24 to go.
Yale had a 36-31 lead at the break. Copeland had 10 on 3 of 4 field goals and he opened the game with his dribble-drive penetration — or the threat of it — which created some openings inside.
The first half was close, too. The Bulldogs weren't able to pull away until Copeland got on the floor. They built their largest lead, 36-28, with a little over two minutes to go in the half on a pair of Jordan Bruner free throws. Fourteen seconds after Copeland went to the bench, Aiken splashed a three-pointer from the top of the key with 10 seconds to go in the half.
Aiken's three was the sixth of the half for the Crimson and one of the main reasons they were in the game. He was 3 of 6 from three and had 12 points at halftime. Yale, on the other hand, was not as good from deep, shooting just 1 of 9 on three-pointers in the first 20 minutes.