Brian Cusworth, shown in earlier action, posted career highs in points (20) and rebounds (13) in Harvard's 85-75 win over Northeastern.
Harvard has an extra reason to give thanks this year.
A balanced offensive attack capped by senior guard Kevin Rogus’ back-to-back clutch three-pointers wrapped up an 85-75 victory over Northeastern (1-2) on Saturday, giving the Crimson its first win of the 2004-2005 season more than a month earlier than it accomplished that feat last year.
The victory—Harvard coach Frank Sullivan’s record-tying 142nd while at Harvard—saw the Crimson (1-2) reverse a trend from the first two games of the year. In losses to Notre Dame and Holy Cross, the Crimson fought back to forge ties during the second half, only to watch the game slip away.
This time, after watching the Huskies claw back from an eight-point halftime deficit to tie the game at 61, the Crimson went on the offensive, using a late 12-2 run to put the game out of reach.
Sullivan was extremely pleased with the way his team performed.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever been as poised over the last year and a half as were during the course of this game,” Sullivan said.
Harvard caught fire right out of the gate, opening the game with a 10-2 spurt that also featured two Rogus trifectas. The Crimson held onto the lead for the rest of the first half thanks in part to a much more balanced offense than the one on display against Holy Cross last Tuesday night. At the break, six players had attempted at least four shots and had recorded at least five points.
“By coming out there and having the guards hit a couple shots at the beginning, [we] really set the tone to have a more balanced attack throughout the whole game,” Rogus said.
Northeastern was led by junior guard Jose Juan Barea, who came into the contest averaging 29.5 points, six assists and three steals through two games. Barea—a unanimous preseason All-America East selection and the nation’s fourth-ranked scorer last season among returning players—was nearly unstoppable in the first 30 minutes, when he had all of his game high 30 points on 11-18 shooting.
After leaving to stretch out his leg on the sideline at the 10:06 mark, he never regained the form he showed earlier in the half, finishing the game with five missed shots and two of his game-high nine turnovers while being hounded by Crimson captain Jason Norman.
Harvard had five players with nine or more points, led by Brian Cusworth. The sophomore center set career highs in points with 20 and minutes with 34. He also tied a career high with 13 rebounds en route to his second double-double in three games.
For the first time this year, Harvard had more assists (20) than turnovers (18). Senior guard David Giovacchini, who got the start at the point guard position for the first time this year, led the team in assists for the third straight game. He finished with five, while four other players had three each.
After finishing the first half on a high note—junior forward Zach Martin connected on a three-pointer off an inbounds pass from sophomore guard Jim Goffredo as time expired—the Crimson came out flat in the second half and allowed Northeastern to go on a 10-2 run to tie the game within 90 seconds.
However, the Crimson did not cave, never allowing the Huskies to get out in front by more than a basket. The team did relinquish the lead twice, but the Crimson stormed back with runs of 4-0 and 6-0 to keep the game under its control.
“I hope we can use the energy and experience to learn how to close out games [in the future],” Rogus said.
Northeastern played without senior guard Marcus Barnes, who came into the game second on the team in scoring with 20.5 points per game. His replacement in the starting lineup, sophomore Bobby Kelly, registered three assists and zero points in 28 minutes of play.
After attempting 35 fewer field goals than its opponents in the in the first two games, the Crimson outshot the Huskies 70-64, thanks in part to a 15-10 edge on the offensive glass. They connected on a remarkable 35 of their field goal attempts, good for 50 percent.
Junior forward Matt Stehle finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists. He might also have picked up his second double-double were it not for the two quick fouls he picked up in the opening six minutes that forced him to spend most of the first half on the bench. Rogus finished with 12 points—on four three-pointers—and three assists.
Northeastern freshman forward Shawn Jones had an impressive debut. He almost recorded a triple-double in his first collegiate appearance, notching 18 points, eight rebounds and a school-record seven blocks in 28 minutes.
—Staff writer Gregory B. Michnikov can be reached at email@example.com.