Coming into Friday night’s game with Yale, the frontcourt match-up was a big concern for Harvard. A foot injury to junior forward Doug Miller left the Crimson without its most consistent post player as it went up against a Bulldog lineup loaded with talented big men.
Yale captain Ross Morin is the most dangerous of this bunch. The forward, a second team All-Ivy selection, was averaging 13.1 points-per-game before Friday’s game.
“He’s our captain. He’s our leader, and we go as he goes,” Bulldog coach James Jones said.
Morin’s teammate, senior forward Travis Pinick, is an equally capable threat. Also a second team All-Ivy selection, Pinick entered Friday averaging 9.4 points-per-game and 6.2 rebounds-per-game, good for fourth in the Ivy League.
“That’s the strength of our team, our guys inside,” Jones said. “We need to go inside to those guys, and they need to finish for us.”
Harvard got a lift from senior forward Evan Harris, who made his return after missing eight games with a knee injury. Despite this effort to stop Yale’s frontcourt, however, the Bulldogs owned the paint en route to a 87-66 victory.
Morin scored 15 points, hitting five of nine shots, and Pinick added 15 of his own, connecting on six of his eight attempts.
Yale also received valuable contributions from its bench. Junior center Paul Nelson, sophomore forward Michael Sands, and freshman forward Greg Mangano combined for eight rebounds and 12 points in 34 minutes of action.
“We’ve got a lot of bodies,” Jones said. “I was able to sub guys at will to try to give us a boost, and they did.”
Yale’s advantage on the interior was most critical when it came to controlling the boards. Coming out of halftime, Yale only led 45-40, but five offensive rebounds in the first nine minutes of the half helped extend the lead to 63-50, a deficit from which Harvard never recovered.
“They did a tremendous job of being physical and strong around the rim,” said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker. “That was the Achilles’ heel for us this evening.”
Yale entered Friday as the second lowest scoring team in the Ivy League at 61.4 points-per-game. In fact, the previous weekend Yale managed to score only 42 points against Columbia and a paltry 36 points against Cornell. Against Harvard, the Bulldogs scored more points than it had in its past two games combined.
“I thought our guys really worked on our offense,” Jones said. “We were much more efficient this weekend.”
Yale shot 55.2 percent from the field, including 50.0 percent from beyond the arc. In addition to Morin and Pinick, two other Bulldogs scored in double figures. Junior guard Alex Zampier scored 12 points, and sophomore guard Porter Braswell added 13 points off the bench.
“Tonight we shot the ball well,” Morin said. “The guys hitting outside shots really stretched the floor for the inside guys.”
Harvard’s offense came from one place Friday night: junior guard Jeremy Lin. Lin, who continues to prove he is one of the best players in the Ivy League, scored 23 points on seven of eleven shooting. He also tallied four rebounds and five assists.
“Jeremy’s been a good player,” Amaker said. “We didn’t have much help for him.”
Team captain Andrew Pusar, who scored 11 points, was the only other player in double figures.
“If we’re not going to get some production out of a few of these guys, its going to be tough for us,” Amaker said. “Jeremy can’t just put everything on his shoulders and expect to carry us to a victory in a game like this.”
—Staff writer Timothy J. Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.