M. Hoops Beats Catamounts
Harvard blows halftime lead but hangs on for victory
Playing without senior Patrick Harvey, the Crimson defeated Vermont 71-64 at Lavietes Pavilion to extend its win streak to four games. Harvard led by 18 with 8:52 left in the second half, but allowed the Catamounts to creep back into the contest.
In the first half, the Crimson offense scored 39 points on 50 percent shooting, but shot just 29.4 percent in the second half and was outscored by Vermont 34-32.
“In the second half, we took lots of ill-advised shots,” said Harvard coach Frank Sullivan. “Vermont made it interesting.”
But Sullivan was pleased, saying that it was “otherwise a great performance, especially without [Harvey].”
Harvey injured himself on Jan. 7 versus Lehigh and has since suffered from tendonitis in his right foot.
“It was good for other guys to step up and play a great game without Pat,” Sullivan said.
The Harvard offense was led by captain Brady Merchant. Merchant carried the Crimson offense in the first half and finished with 21 points and six boards.
“Brady was huge for us tonight,” said senior point guard Elliott Prasse-Freeman. “Getting him the ball was my number one priority tonight.”
Prasse-Freeman orchestrated the Harvard offense to near-perfection at times, leading the Crimson on 17-2 and 11-1 runs. Prasse-Freeman, who just missed a double-double (nine points, 10 assists), sank two key free throws with six seconds remaining to seal the game.
“As I took those shots I was just thinking, ‘Don’t be an idiot, man,’” Prasse-Freeman said, having missed two from the charity stripe with 52 ticks left.
Sophomore guards Jason Norman and Kevin Rogus also contributed key minutes for Harvard.
With 1:30 left in regulation, Norman made a spectacular block and then turned on the rocket-boosters, tracking down a long lob pass from Prasse-Freeman and finishing with an authoritative dunk. The slam put Harvard up by 11.
“I breathed a sigh of relief after the dunk,” Sullivan said.
Prasse-Freeman echoed his coach’s sentiment.
“I think that put the nail in the coffin,” he said. “That’s just what Norman does best.”
Rogus was rock steady off the bench for the Crimson, scoring nine points in 21 minutes.
“Kevin has really begun to find his stroke,” Sullivan said. “He’s playing much better ball.”
Rogus went 3-for-4 from behind the arc, leading the Crimson’s three-point shooting effort. Harvard shot 38 percent from downtown, as three-pointers were the Crimson’s primary legitimate threat.
Vermont forward Mike Goia hit 5-of-8 trifectas, including three in the last 1:02 to force the Crimson to make its free throws.
“Goia’s a good player,” Sullivan said “His range is phenomenal.”
But despite Goia and the rest of the Catamounts’ best efforts, the Crimson rolled to an easy victory.
“We played balanced ball tonight,” Sullivan said. “It wasn’t always perfect, but we’re on a roll.”
—Staff writer Sean W. Coughlin can be reached at email@example.com.