After a tough loss against Towson University in their first exhibition game of the season, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues men’s basketball team returned to face the Harvard Crimson on August 25 at the Goldring Centre. It was a close game from start to finish, but the Blues managed to take home the win with a fourth-quarter buzzer-beater. 

What happened

The energy in the stadium was electric, as more than 1,500 fans from both Harvard and Toronto filled the stands to support both teams. This atmosphere at Goldring set the Blues up for success as they had the high energy needed to start the game off strong. 

The Blues kept their defense tight in the first quarter; the score remained 0–0 until Harvard forward Josh Hemmings put up the first point on the board almost two minutes into the game. Blues guard Nadav Sahar quickly followed with a three-pointer, putting the Blues in the lead. Harvard led the game 17–10 by the end of the first quarter.  

Though they trailed behind early in the second quarter, the Blues were quick to catch up. Back-to-back three-pointers by Blues forward Ryan Rudnick tied up the score, but Crimson’s Chandler Pigge drilled a three-pointer to end the second quarter at 32–28 for Harvard. 

The Blues came hot out of the locker room ready to dominate the scoreboard in the third quarter, and a three-pointer by forward Anthony Daudu reclaimed the lead. Plays by Daudu, Rudnick, and Ontario University Athletics All-Star guard, Callum Baker, kept the team’s momentum consistent throughout the second half.  

In a nail-biting fourth quarter with the Blues in the lead, both teams were hungry for a win, but the Blues came out on top. With a quick assist by Rudnick, Sahar finished what he started and ended the game with an exciting three-pointer that had Blues fans out of their seats, celebrating their victory.  

Several Blues rookies — including Sahar, forward Dane Quest, and guards Nathan Bureau and Aaron Uppal — made quite the impression on the court, challenging Harvard’s defense and effortlessly fitting into the Blues game plan alongside the team’s veteran players. 

It was also quite the game for Rudnick, who led the team with a game-high 19 points alongside Baker. “I played within the offense, and my teammates were looking for me,” Rudnick explained. They were creating opportunities in and around the paint for Rudnick to drive past Harvard’s defense, helping the team take home the win. 

What’s next 

Next on the preseason agenda, the Blues face Ontario Tech Ridgebacks at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre on September 28 at 7:00 pm. They hope to keep up the same winning attitude going into the regular season, beginning November 3 against the Brock University Badgers.