PRINCETON, N.J.—As Harvard coach Frank Sullivan unloaded the bench in the closing moments in Jadwin Gym, one couldn’t help but think of one of the top reasons why the Crimson had fallen so far in league play.
In the 10 games leading up to the January exam break, Harvard’s bench players had averaged 14 points per contest. In the 10 Ivy games after the break, the Crimson’s reserves averaged just four points per contest, hitting that number right on the mark in Saturday night’s loss to Princeton.
With no significant scoring threat off the bench, Harvard has labored to find points when its starters are taking a quick breather. This was most apparent Friday night, as the Crimson built a 22-13 lead over Penn, only to have the Quakers storm right back as Harvard substituted out its starters.
That led Sullivan to stick with his starting five down the stretch, forcing each starter to log between 36 and 43 minutes, a key source of the fatigue that the Crimson experienced the following evening.
“Regardless of whether you play at Penn or at Princeton first, the Friday night game is always the one that takes a lot of energy out of you,” Sullivan said. “There’s a lot of energy that’s required for the front end of the weekend, and we put a lot of energy into it.”
The Princeton offense kicked into high gear against Harvard, as the Tigers made 25 baskets without hitting a single mid-range jumper.
Princeton finished the game with 13 threes and 12 layups, as the Tigers shot 63 percent from the field. The 13 Princeton treys came on just 19 attempts (68 percent) in what was the Tigers’ best offensive performance of the season.
“A team like that is tough, because they live and die by the three,” junior guard Jim Goffredo said. “So if they make a couple in a row, they’ll shoot anything.”
All but four of Princeton’s baskets came off assists, with Tigers guard Scott Greenman leading all players with six.
“We’re not turning the ball over—that’s huge,” Princeton coach Joe Scott said. “We have a point guard that’s playing really well. We [also] have a center—if you want to call him that—playing extremely well....Probably, if you were going to be honest about it, when we were going through our struggles, we didn’t have a point guard, and we were trying to find a center. Those two things are a big part of this.”
The hot shooting also tilted the rebounding edge in Princeton’s favor, as there were only 16 rebounds to be had on the Crimson’s defensive end, as opposed to 26 on the opposite glass.
For the second time this season, Tigers forward Kyle Koncz had a stellar evening against Harvard.
Koncz nailed five of his six attempts from three and went 9-for-11 from the field on the evening en route to 23 points. He also pulled down six boards, dished out three assists, and added two steals in the victory.
“He made shots both times we’ve played [Harvard],” Scott said. “But he is a good shooter, he happened to get open tonight, and he made them.”
The 6’7 sophomore has had just two 20-point performances in his career, and both have come at the expense of the Crimson.
“It’s nice to see Kyle break out and play well,” Scott said. “It’s been a long time coming for him.”
COLOR OF MONEY
Greenman, the leader of the Tigers attack, has exploded in league play as his 11 points Saturday night gave him seven straight games with double-figures in scoring.
In 10 league games, Greenman has scored 10 or more points eight times after hitting double-figures in just two of the nine non-conference games in which he appeared.
The 5’9 senior has also become more proficient in leading the offense, as he has recorded three five-plus assist games in Ivy play, after failing to hit five in each of his non-conference contests.
—Staff writer Michael R. James can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.