BOSTON--When captain Damian Long's would-be game-winner rimmed out at the buzzer, it was the last in a series of bad bounces for the Harvard men's basketball team.
The Crimson (3-3) led Boston University 53-48 with 5:11 to play, but a series of late miscues--at the free-throw line and on inbounds plays--allowed the Terriers (1-5) to close the game on a 10-4 run, beating Harvard 58-57 last night at Case Gym.
In addition to Long's in-and-out shot, Harvard had two inbounds passes deflected--one for a turnover and an easy bucket for B.U.--and missed three of its last four free throws and its last four shots from the floor.
All those errors were emblematic of a night when the Crimson shot just 20-of-61 from the floor and 3-of-22 from three-point range, the team's worst shooting numbers of the young season.
"It's truly ironic because our four previous opponents all had field-goal percentage defenses under 40 percent," Harvard Coach Frank Sullivan said. "This was the first team we played that had a field-goal percentage defense over 40 percent and they guarded us the toughest of anybody."
Nobody suffered the Crimson's shooting drought worse than junior forward Dan Clemente, the team's leading scorer at 24.2 points per game. Clemente, marked mainly man-to-man by B.U.'s Jean Avebe, got his shots off but hit just 3-of-16 for a season-low six points. He also missed all eight of his three-point attempts, the first time in 23 games he failed to sink a trey.
"Avebe had one of his best games for us," B.U. Coach Dennis Wolff said. "He couldn't have guarded Dan Clemente any better. He guarded a very, very good player and he shot 3-of-16 and didn't make any threes. We really emphasized taking away the three."
Long, the Crimson's other pure shooter alongside Clemente, also struggled, making just 4-of-16 from the floor for 10 points. During a key possession late in the second half with the Crimson trailing 58-56, Long missed a jumper from inside the arc, then Clemente missed a three from the right corner. After a pair of offensive boards from sophomore guard Drew Gellert, Long missed another three.
Added to the potential game-winner, the pair missed four shots down the stretch that would have tied the game or given Harvard the lead.
Junior forward Tim Coleman had game-highs with 19 points and eight rebounds and played his most minutes of the season, 35. He added two blocks and two steals.
"I'm only worried about my rebounding," Coleman said. "I've got to get at least eight rebounds a game for us to be close, and if I get 10, we win. I look at anything I can do on the offense as a plus."
Coleman showcased a variety of good moves in the paint, including a left-handed hook shot, a solid baseline jumper and the ability to finish quick entry passes strong to the basket.
Coleman also scored when the rest of his team couldn't. The Crimson made just one field goal in the last 8:37 of the first half--a baby hook by Coleman--and it was the junior who broke the skid in the second half, scoring Harvard's first five points on a pair of low-post finishes and a free throw.
"I definitely feel more comfortable in the post this year," Coleman said. "I played with a lot of guys this summer who were good one-on-one post players, and that helped. And those are all of Coach O'Brien [former Harvard Assistant Kevin O'Brien]'s moves."
Coleman even drained his fifth three-pointer of the season late in the second half, pulling the Crimson even at 56-56 with 1:48 to play. He's now 5-of-7 from beyond the arc this year.
"I always could shoot the three," Coleman said. "I just worked on my shooting more, kept practicing and playing more. It's a part of my game, and it's my goal to be an all-around player."
Prasse Your Luck
Freshman point guard Elliott Prasse-Freeman made his second straight start and did nice work again, finishing with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists, and made 10-of-12 from the line.
In Saturday's 85-83 loss to Navy, Prasse-Freeman scored 15 points and dished 10 assists.
But Prasse-Freeman picked a bad time to miss his second free throw of the evening--with 14 seconds left in the game and the Crimson trailing 58-56. Prasse-Freeman bounced his first attempt off the back of the rim before hitting the second to make it 58-57.
"I'm not happy at all because I missed a free throw to win the game," Prasse-Freeman said. "That's how a point guard measures himself: not on his stat line but on the bottom line, the win-loss, even though those stats might look good on paper."
Prasse-Freeman bobbled an inbounds pass late and had it picked off by the Terriers' Matt Turner, who fed Avebe for an easy deuce with 2:13 remaining to make the B.U. lead 56-53. And with just 1.4 seconds on the clock, Prasse-Freeman's inbounds pass was knocked out of bounds by Avebe, which whittled the clock down to 0.8 seconds.