The Bears shot 28-for-46 from the field (60.9 percent), 10-of-19 (52.6 percent) from three-point range, and 12-of-13 (92.3 percent) from the free throw line in the win.
“They were tremendous. They were absolutely tremendous,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “I’d like to think that we can do a better job defensively. And, they had 18 assists and only eight turnovers. They were very efficient. When you look at stat lines like that, you probably think of a very veteran, savvy ballclub, and I think that’s what that team is.”
After sprinting out to a 13-point lead in the first half, the Bears halted every chance at a Harvard run with another timely score.
When Harvard got within five with a minute to play in the first half, a converted three-point play by Scott Friske put Brown up by eight at the break.
“We were just in rotation all night,” sophomore guard Jeremy Lin said. “We’ve got to do a better job of fighting through screens and cutting off penetration.”
The Crimson made it close again in the second half, using a 10-0 run to cut a 12-point Bear advantage to just two, 51-49, with 11:40 to play.
Over the next eight minutes, though, Brown shot 7-for-9 from the floor and outscored Harvard 23-8 to open up a 17-point lead and thwart the Crimson’s chances.
“I mean they’re a great team. They showed it,” junior forward Evan Harris said. “They showed why they were contending for first place in league the whole time. We dug ourselves a hole early, but I’m really proud of the way we fought back and made it a game.”
POINT BLANK’ RANGE
Sophomore guard Alek Blankenau hasn’t received many minutes this season. But he must like to play against the Bears.
Following a 14-point performance in just 14 minutes in Providence three weeks ago, Blankenau was inserted into the Crimson lineup with four minutes to play in the first half of Friday night’s game to attack Brown’s 1-3-1 zone.
With the Crimson down 33-25, Blankenau took a pass from sophomore Dan McGeary and drained a three from the right side. While the Bears’ Damon Huffman answered with a trey of his own just 23 seconds later, Blankenau came right back and sank another trey from the top on the following possession to keep it close.
“We told him that because they play a lot of zone, we felt that Alek could be a weapon for us, and he definitely was in the first half,” Amaker said. “He gave us a huge shot in the arm, a huge lift, and gave us life and put us in position to where we were within striking distance. I just thought it was very positive that he was able to do that for our team.”
“He’s just an unbelievable shooter,” Lin said. “He makes it easy for us, because all we try to do is get him the ball and he does the rest. What he did was very impressive, especially not being able to play that much, coming in here and just giving us a lift.”
Blankenau saw six more minutes of action in the second half, but the Lincoln, Neb. native couldn’t convert another trey. With the Crimson trailing 61-55 with 7:25 to go, Blankenau had an open look from the left side. It rimmed out, and, in a six-point switch, Brown’s Peter Sullivan sank a three on the other end.
“It gets demoralizing when you can’t get over that hump, and we saw that happen when Alek missed a three right in front of our bench in transition,” Amaker said of the play.
While Lin shot 4-of-10 from the floor and scored just nine points, his presence was felt as he added seven boards, seven assists, and three steals to the Crimson attack.
“You’re gonna see that out of Jeremy,” Amaker said. “He’s been our best player all year, our most consistent player, the guy that can make things happen for us.”
Harris had a big performance as well in the paint, scoring 16 and grabbing seven rebounds. On the defensive end, he got his hands on loose balls and contributed three big blocks, pounding a couple off the glass.
“I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help us win,” Harris said. “Maybe next time I need seven or eight blocks.”
—Staff writer Kevin C. Reyes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.