A thrilling 83-81 overtime victory against the University of New Hampshire on Wednesday coupled with a win against Colgate tomorrow would give the Crimson a three-game winning streak—and help get its swagger back.
“Stringing together a couple wins, to gut out a close game like that, and on the road, is kind of a double whammy,” senior captain Jim Goffredo said after the game on Wednesday.
And for Harvard, whose road wins have been few and far between, this win away from home is a sign of better things to come.
“One of the things that was important to us in this game [against UNH] was developing road toughness,” coach Frank Sullivan said. “Hopefully that helps that confidence factor in the guys.”
The Crimson will need that road savvy tomorrow to get past the Raiders (3-2), a team that is riding a three-game winning streak of its own.
Recently, both teams have been shooting in improved accuracy, a fact that could turn the contest into an offensive duel.
In the second half of its last outing, a win over Quinnipiac, Colgate caught fire, shooting 63 percent from the floor, up from its season average of 48 percent.
The Raiders were led by junior Daniel Waddy, who netted a career-high 27 points, including two buckets from beyond the arc. Captain Jon Simon chipped in too, adding three treys as part of 19 points.
Luckily for Harvard, its roster also includes a sharp-shooting captain who can be deadly from downtown. Goffredo has already racked up 17 threes on the young season, the most important of which came with 1:27 remaining in overtime against UNH, when he calmly nailed one from long range to tie the game at 81.
While Simon and Goffredo are closely matched, Crimson center Brain Cusworth and his Colgate counterpart, Marc Daniels, are not. Statistically, Cusworth average more points, rebounds, and blocks per game than Daniels, giving Harvard a distinct advantage down low.
Cusworth, the school record holder in blocked shots, has racked up 12 rejections in 2006. For comparison, Daniels has two.
But this is not even the most glaring difference between the two players: While Cusworth scores a team-high 17.2 points per game, Daniels is lagging far behind with an average of 3.8.
In addition to this frontcourt mismatch, the Crimson has one other thing going for it: freshman Jeremy Lin.
In last year’s matchup with the Raiders, then-freshman guard Drew Housman exploded for a season-best 21 points. 15 of those came in the second frame.
Lin has shown a similar ability to perform down the stretch so far in his rookie season. In the final seconds of overtime against UNH, he stole a Wildcats inbounds pass and took it the length of the court for the game-winning basket.
Unless Colgate learned its lesson last year about the need to watch out for Harvard freshmen, Lin could surprise the Raiders and be the difference-maker again on Saturday.
This will be the 19th meeting between the two teams.
The Raiders lead the all-time series 12-6, but Harvard has won three of the last five meetings, including the last two.
Tip-off at Lavietes Pavilion tomorrow is scheduled for 2 p.m.