"I had a smaller guy on me, and I thought going to the basket was better than shooting a short jumper," said the 6-foot-3 McNally. "It's a tough place to play. [Penn fans] were really into it during the second half."
Penn guard Zack Rosen drove hard to the basket on the Quakers' ensuing possession, but his shot attempt never drew iron.
"It was a hard-fought game that neither team wanted to lose, and they made one more play than we did," Penn coach Jerome Allen said. "We put the ball in Zack's hands and let him try to create something. I'm going to live and die with the decisions he makes."
Rosen finished the contest with 19 points and 13 assists while forward Jack Eggleston led Penn with 23 points and eight rebounds.
A pair of free throws by Rosen with 10.1 seconds remaining in regulation knotted the score at 64. Harvard had one last chance to end it before the extra session, but a follow shot by Crimson guard Brandyn Curry on which he appeared to be fouled was ruled to have come after the buzzer.
A basket by Rosen at the buzzer ending the first overtime was waved off, with the officials saying the attempt was late. The period ended with the score 77-77.
The loss snapped the Quakers' four-game winning streak, and left the squad with a 9-9 overall record that includes a 3-1 mark in the Ivies. In running its record to 16-4 and 5-1, Harvard won on Penn's home court for the third straight year.
The Crimson were led by the one-two punch of 6-8 Keith Wright (25 points, six rebounds) and 6-7 Kyle Casey (18 points, nine rebounds). They combined for 19 points as Harvard left the court at halftime with a 35-24 lead.
"It was a tremendous game that could have gone either way," Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. "We were very fortunate, and you feel for Penn that they could not come out on top in that environment."
The Quakers, down by 47-29 with almost 16 minutes left, battled back to cut the Crimson's advantage to 56-51 on a three-point jumper from the right corner by Eggleston with just under six minutes showing on the clock.
"You just can't dig yourself an 18-point hole against a good basketball team and expect to win," Eggleston said.
Bernardini, who scored 16 first-half points against Dartmouth Friday night, didn't get his first basket against Harvard until 4 minutes, 22 seconds before the break. His three-pointer cut the Crimson's lead to 25-20, but Penn was looking at an 11-point deficit at intermission after going 10 for 26 from the floor to Harvard's 13 for 25.
"A loss is a loss, whether it's in double overtime or a blowout," Rosen said. "Especially at home in this league, because your record defines where you're going to go. What we wanted out of the game was a win. What we got out of the game was a loss."
Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.