STORRS, CONN—Under head coach Tommy Amaker, the Crimson has had a knack for witnessing success as the underdog.
But against No. 13 UConn (6-1) in the school’s Gampel Pavilion yesterday, the Crimson (6-2) could not assert itself over the Huskies and lost a competitive game by a score of 79-73.
Despite a 16-point Husky advantage at one point, the possibility for a Harvard victory was not out of the question. With 3:22 to go in the final half, freshman Christian Webster sank two free-throws to bring the Crimson to within five at 67-62.
With UConn star Jerome Dyson stalling out and co-captain Jeremy Lin returning to the court, Harvard looked poised to make a dramatic victory run, but the Big East powerhouse held on to deny Amaker’s squad a third major upset in as many years.
“I was pleased with the great effort that we put forth here this afternoon,” Amaker said. “But certainly you need to play a flawless game to have chance to win a game against this kind of terrific opponent in their home environment.”
The second-half comeback was catalyzed by Lin, who sparked the rally by scoring six consecutive points in under a minute. Capping off his run with 11:30 to go, Lin surged down the middle of the court past Husky defenders and received a well-placed inbound from sophomore Keith Wright before leaping up and slamming the ball through the hoop.
“In the first half, I was a little nervous about everything, and I didn’t know how the game was going to go,” Lin said. “I got more aggressive as the game went on, and I felt more comfortable.”
Lin led all players with 30 points on only 18 attempts—in addition to tallying three assists, two blocks and three steals. After scoring only eight in the entire first half, Lin scored nine straight with the clock ticking down to tie his career high.
“For some folks who haven’t seen [Lin] play, you’re probably wowed by some of the things he can do–we are,” Amaker said.
“That’s the best complement I can give him, that what you saw this afternoon out of him is who he is. I think he’s as good of a guard as there is,” Amaker added.
“He’s one of the better kids, including Big East guards, who have come in here in quite some time,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said.
Lin and the rest of the Crimson managed to keep pace with UConn shooting from the field, trailing the Huskies’ 42 percent shooting within the arch by only one percent.
Harvard could not maintain the tempo at the boards, though, as UConn reasserted itself in the paint during the second half and grabbed 27 total rebounds to the Crimson’s 14.
Although there was no blowout, an inconsistent but nonetheless intimidating UConn defense made its presence known. Frequently outmaneuvering Harvard, the Huskies were relentless at rebounding and kept up pressure on the Crimson from the inbound to the basket. UConn blocked Harvard shots 13 times and recovered well from turnovers.
The Huskies halted the Crimson twice following two Lin steals in under a minute; Dyson blocked freshman Brandyn Curry’s attempt at a lay-up before guard Kemba Walker muscled out a defensive rebound after the second steal.