Free throws cost Harvard the men's basketball game against Colgate last night.
"It's something that you don't like to acknowledge too much, because it can become a mental thing, but it's certainly something we have to work on," Coach Frank Sullivan said.
After last night's game, every Harvard fan in Briggs Cage had to agree. At several key junctures throughout the contest, free throws proved the difference in an otherwise tight game.
After Fred Scott hit a 15-foot jumper with 7:05 left in regulation to put Harvard up for the first time in the game, Colgate's Nate O'Neil hit four straight foul shots in 16 seconds to put Colgate back on top by a score of 53-50.
In the next 3:36, Harvard shot better from the charity stripe than it had all game, hitting eight of ten free throws. Dan Morris sank four of four shots during that time, while Terrence Mann also nailed both of his attempts.
But it wasn't enough to overcome a horrible first half that saw the Crimson miss six of its 11 foul shots.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, just before Harvard's miniature hot streak began, the foul shooting percentage still stood at only .444 (12 for 27).
Managed a Hike
The Crimson eventually managed to hike its overall shooting percentage up to .564 (22 for 39), but the players could take little consolation in the improvement after the wrenching 5-point loss.
The most accurate shooters were Morris (4-for-4), Mann (2-for-2) and Rankin (5-for-6). Tarik Campbell, who led Harvard with 18 points, shot just two for eight from the line.
Colgate, in contrast, took advantage of its trips to the charity stripe. Colgate's overall free throw percentage stood at .764 (20 for 26).
Harvard scored only two more points off of fouls than Colgate despite attempting 13 more shots.
"We didn't make our free throws," Sullivan said, and it became a "very big factor."
"We encourage fouls with our penetration and we have to make our free throws," he said.
A quick look at history does not bode well for the Crimson. Harvard has traditionally struggled with its free-throw shooting.
Loss of Rullman Key
With the graduation of Tyler Rullman, who was second in the Ivy League in free throw percentage, Harvard lost its best shooter from the line.
Even with Rullman, Harvard's stats were dismal. Harvard shot just .618 (358 for 579) for the season last year and finished in the Ivy League cellar in free throw percentage, despite having the second most attempts in the Ancient Eight.