Despite a career night from junior guard Kevin Rogus Friday night against Colgate (4-3) and a near double-double from junior captain Jason Norman on Sunday against Vermont, the Crimson fell victim to second-half surges in dropping each weekend contest.
Vermont 48, Harvard 42
After another strong start and another dismal performance down the stretch, Harvard found itself on the short end of a 48-42 final at Patrick Gymnasium against Vermont (2-4) yesterday.
The Crimson trailed 48-37 with just over 25 seconds remaining. A Rogus three, a Catamount turnover and a Norman finish allowed Harvard to close the gap to 48-42 with just seven seconds to play. Vermont forward Taylor Coppenrath attempted to grab the subsequent inbound pass but collided with a teammate, giving the Crimson the ball back with just under three seconds remaining.
The furious battle against the clock drew to a close as Rogus missed an inconsequential jumper to end the game.
Harvard was able to stay close to the Catamounts for most of the second half due to its stifling defense and the offensive contributions of sophomore forward Matt Stehle. Stehle scored 11 of his team-high 13 points in the second half. The rest of the team could only muster nine second-half points collectively.
“We ran our offense all the way through,” Rogus said. “We just didn’t make shots. We’ve had that problem in our away games all season.”
An 8-0 Vermont run midway through the second half gave last year’s America East champions a nine-point lead, 40-31. The Crimson closed the lead to seven on three separate occasions, but despite numerous chances could never pull any closer until Norman’s bucket with seven seconds to go.
Norman finished the game one rebound shy of a double-double with 10 points and nine boards.
Harvard bolted to an 18-8 lead out of the gate on the strength of a 14-4 run. The Catamounts responded immediately, with Coppenrath—last year’s America East Player of the Year—contributing nine points, seven on free throws, as Vermont posted a 15-4 run of its own to take a 23-22 lead into halftime.
“Once we started to rotate the lineup, there were a couple of possessions that we got a bad shot and [Coppenrath] would come down and hit free throws,” junior point guard David Giovacchini said.
Harvard mixed up its defense constantly throughout the game, starting in a man-to-man and shifting to a 2-3 and later a 1-2-2 zone. The Crimson defense held Coppenrath—the fourth-leading scorer in the nation entering the game—to just three-of-nine shooting from the floor. However, Harvard could not keep the 6’9 forward off the free-throw line, where Coppenrath converted 13 out of 14 attempts.
“We go to our zone to conserve energy and try and make them shoot from the outside because they haven’t been shooting all that well this season,” Giovacchini said. “That flustered them a lot.”
Once again, the Crimson got into foul trouble early, as both sophomore point guard Michael Beal and Stehle had picked up their second fouls less than five minutes into the game.
Stehle was called for his third just past the midway point of the first half with Harvard leading 15-8 and had to take a seat.