No Answer for Tiger One-Two Punch

Free throws, three pointers remain Achilles’ heel for slipping Crimson

PRINCETON, N.J.—Pick your poison.

That’s the choice that the Harvard men’s basketball team was left with when it took on the Tigers on Saturday night, getting attacked by senior forward Kyle Koncz in the first half and receiving similar treatment from sophomore guard Lincoln Gunn in the second.

In the opening frame, Koncz was nearly unstoppable, draining three after three to keep Princeton in the game.

He recorded the Tigers’ first field goal, launching a trey after junior Andrew Pusar moved into the lane to help on captain Brad Unger’s man.

Then, with the score tied at 12, he hit a three from the wing to put Princeton ahead and logged another from the top of the key to push the Tigers’ lead to 20-14.

Later in the half, over a series of five Princeton possessions, Koncz scored on three of them. He first ditched the defending Unger for an easy finish from under the basket. The next possession, he fired a long ball from the wing over his defender to regain the lead for the Tigers, 28-27. And in the last minute of the half, Koncz hit the twine again from long distance to keep Princeton within four at halftime.

All in all, Koncz finished the half with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 5-of-8 from downtown and 2-of-3 from the free-throw line, in 20 minutes of play.

“I thought that was the difference in the game—their ability to make the three-point shots, and certainly Kyle’s five in the first,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “And it was impressive that he wasn’t forcing shots in the second half.”

Indeed, Koncz had a quiet latter frame, scoring just three points—but converting an important three-pointer that put Princeton ahead, 56-50, to spark a 15-4 game-ending run.

Rather, it was Gunn who took over for the Tigers, repeatedly breaking away from his defenders—most often sophomore guard Jeremy Lin—for long jumpers. After starting the game but going just 0-of-2 from the field in 14 minutes in the first half, Gunn played almost the entire second half and recorded 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc.

“That was mostly my fault,” Lin said of Gunn’s second-half performance. “I didn’t get a hand up on the shooter when I was supposed to.”

He hit his first trey from the wing to bring Princeton back within one at 37-36. He did not score again until almost five minutes later, but his three from the sideline boosted the Tigers lead to four points, 46-42—Princeton’s largest lead of the half up to that point.

Like Koncz, Gunn delivered his most punishing blows late in the half. He drained a three from the top of the key and followed that with a runner from the lane on the next possession to give the Tigers a 53-49 lead and force the Crimson to take a timeout.

Gunn’s final three-pointer epitomized his performance, as he received the ball from guard Marcus Schroeder and calmly popped a shot with Lin in his face.

The score, which put Princeton ahead, 61-53, was the final nail in the coffin, as freshman guard T.J. Carey was forced to foul on the next possession to stop the clock after Lin missed on a three-point attempt.

“I thought Lincoln did a heck of a job making some tough ones at the end of some of the possessions, kind of back-breaking shots, deflating shots for us, and I think very uplifting shots for them,” Amaker said.

NOT THEIR HOUS’

After being touted as the Crimson’s one-two punch coming into the season, Harris and junior guard Drew Housman have been seeing limited minutes.

Neither player started on Saturday night, and the two combined for just 21 minutes and five points—all scored by Housman in the first half.

Especially for the guard, this was a far cry from last year’s double-overtime loss at Jadwin Gym, when Housman scored a career-high 33 points, including 26 after halftime.

“Those are two very talented and very key guys for our team, so we have to figure something out to get them going as well, to give ourselves more dimensions for this team,” Lin said. “I trust the coaching staff in whatever they are doing. I know that when the guys get called, they’ll be ready to play.”

Getting the nod because of what Amaker termed a “better matchup on the front line,” freshman forward Kyle Fitzgerald made just his second start of the season, stepping in for Harris, who started against Penn on Friday night.

Fitzgerald finished with seven points on 2-of-3 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from the line.

“The way that they play with spreading the floor and bringing a lot of players out…We were concerned with that so we went smaller, and Kyle was the kid that we thought would help us the most in that regard,” Amaker said.

Junior transfer Cem Dinc saw limited action again after beginning his Harvard career against Penn on Friday night, badly missing a three-point attempt and logging one foul in four minutes of play.

Sophomore forward Pat Magnarelli did not play all weekend as he continued to nurse a nagging injury.

—Staff writer Karan Lodha can be reached at klodha@fas.harvard.edu.

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