BRONX, N.Y.—Entering Tuesday night’s matchup between the No. 21/22 Harvard men’s basketball team and Fordham, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that co-captain Keith Wright would notch the eight points he needed to reach 1,000 for his career.
After all, Wright, who had scored in double figures in 35 of the Crimson’s past 43 games heading into Thursday night, was set to face a Fordham defense that isn’t exactly know for its stinginess.
And early on, it looked as if Wright was well on his way to becoming just the 27th player in program history to join the 1,000-point club.
With 2:48 to play in the first half, Wright scored his fifth and sixth points of the game, finishing a layup off a Brandyn Curry pass to put Harvard ahead by six. Then, just seconds before the end of the first half, Wright was fed in the post again. He made a move toward the basket and tossed a shot at the rim as he was fouled, but the ball went in and out, and the senior was forced to earn his points at the line.
Wright sunk the first, but his second attempt missed, and he went into the locker room one point shy of 1,000.
It took him 18 minutes and 56 seconds to pick up that final point.
After going 3-for-3 from the field in the first half, Wright did not register a shot attempt in the entire second period and finished the game with three shots, a season-low. It was not until a late free throw that Wright picked up his eighth—and final—point of the night.
“They were playing zone, so part of that is it’s tough to get the ball inside,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “He could have taken more shots than three. It’s not just about us getting him the ball. We’ve got to be able to see if there are ways that he can get it off the backboard or get to the foul line.”
Getting Wright going offensively has been key to the Crimson’s success. So far this season, Harvard is 8-0 when the co-captain reaches double figures. When he is held to under 10 points, the Crimson is 4-2.
Amaker often remarks that the Crimson’s offensive strength lies in its ability to play inside-out. If opponents focus too much on defending Wright in the post, Harvard can swing it to an open shooter on the perimeter. And if opponents extend their defense to get out on the Crimson’s shooters, Harvard can dump it out down to Wright and let the big man go to work.
On most nights, if one half of the Harvard offense is faltering, the other half picks up the slack. That wasn’t the case Thursday.
While Wright was ineffective against a tough Fordham zone defense, the Crimson’s shooters had even greater struggles, as the team went 20-of-55 from the field and 8-of-30 from beyond the arc.
“Certainly our shooting percentage was horrific,” said Amaker, whose team had its worst shooting performance since playing Florida State in November. “No matter what you do, if you can’t throw it in the ocean sitting out on the row boat, it’s not going to look like you're prepared for anything.”
Despite taking a season-high 30 three-point attempts—nearly double its average of 17.8 attempts per game—the Crimson was not unhappy with its shot selection.