The Harvard men's basketball team traveled to Worcester, Mass., last night for a game against defending Patriot League champions and NCAA tournament qualifiers Holy Cross.
Little did the Crimson know it would suffer a devastating loss in a game that for all intents and purposes Harvard should have won. The Crusaders came back from a 21-point second-half lead and handed the Crimson an 80-76 defeat in the final minute of play.
With just under one minute left in the game and Harvard leading 76-74, Holy Cross' Gordon Hamilton was fouled. Hamilton made the first of his two free throws, but missed the second. Crusader Ted Bettencourt, however, picked off the long rebound and hit a three-point shot to give Holy Cross the win and crush Harvard's upset hopes.
For most of the contest, the Crimson (2-2 overall, 0-0 Ivy) stared into the eyes of its superior opponents and didn't flinch. In fact, Harvard controlled the game and built a seemingly insurmountable lead in the second period. But in the end, Harvard's inexperience, Holy Cross' trapping press and amzing individual performances by Crusaders Bettencourt and Rob Feaster allowed Holy Cross back into the contest and set the stage for the game's unlikely ending.
Feaster scored a game-high 28 points and added five rebounds, while his backcourt mate, Bettencourt, scored 23 points of his own (including the game-winning trey) to go along with four assists.
"We were trying hard not to lose the lead," Harvard junior guard Jared Leake said. "We had problems handling our success in the second half."
While Holy Cross couldn't get anything going on the offensive end, Harvard hit 46 percent of its shots in the first half. The Crimson got balanced scoring (five players ended the game in double digits in scoring) and passing. And when Feaster comitted his third personal foul, the Holy Cross star had to sit out and Harvard went on a 10-2 run, taking a 41-33 lead into intermission.
In the second stanza, however, the Crusaders awoke from their first-half slumber and connected on 56 percent of their shots from the floor and a respectable 70 percent from the line.
Nonetheless, Harvard was in the match until the end. Good defense allowed the Crimson to jump out to an early lead.
"We were pretty much poised, breaking up the press and picking up on defense," Leake said. "Everything was coming together."
Leading the way for Harvard was Leake (15 points and six rebounds), senior co-captain and guard, Tarik Campbell (9 assists) and freshman forward Kyle Snowden (11 points and seven rebounds).
"We are a lot better team [than last year]," Leake said. "[Holding a lead] something we have to get used to."
--This article was written with material from the Associated Press.