It looked like the Harvard men’s basketball team went on Thanksgiving break a day early.
On Tuesday night at St. Joseph’s, the Crimson fell behind by double digits before the second media timeout and never pulled within 10 the rest of the way, losing, 75-56.
“Really tough night for us,” said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker, whose team shot one-of-eight from the field and committed eight turnovers in the first eight minutes of play. “I’m disappointed how quickly we got ourselves buried.”
Just four days after shooting 54.3 percent from the field in a 34-point victory over Manhattan, Harvard couldn’t get anything going offensively. The Crimson (2-2) shot 19 of 50 from the field and coughed up a season-high 18 turnovers.
On the other end, Harvard struggled to slow the Hawks’ offense, which opened the game on a tear. St. Joseph’s (3-1) shot 53.1 percent from the field in the first period and took a 41-23 lead into halftime.
“Our defense wasn’t what it needs to be in a game like this,” Amaker said. “I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to pull ourselves together a little bit when things were going south.”
Hawks guard Carl Jones finished with a game-high 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting off the bench.
Playing in just his second game of the season, Jones checked in with 15:09 to play and quickly made his presence felt. The 5’11” guard knocked down a triple on his first trip down the court and, before the end of the half, had posted 18 points.
Sophomore Wesley Saunders paced the Crimson with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting, making him the only Harvard player to shoot over 50 percent from the field. Saunders added a team-high nine rebounds.
After a string of three strong performances to open his college career, freshman point guard Siyani Chambers struggled against the Hawks. In 31 minutes the rookie committed five turnovers—matching his total from the Crimson’s first three contests combined—and recorded season lows in both points (2) and assists (2).
Coming off a 17-point performance in Friday’s drubbing of Manhattan, junior co-captain Laurent Rivard came out cold against the Hawks. Rivard opened the game shooting 0-of-4 from beyond the arc, contributing to the Crimson’s 0-of-9 start from deep.
The junior found his stroke in the second half—connecting on four straight triples in a span of 3:18—to fuel a 26-5 Harvard run to close the contest. But it was too little too late, as the Hawks’ early lead proved insurmountable.
The Crimson struggled maintaining possession in the contest’s early going, as Harvard turned it over on four of its first six trips up the court. St. Joseph’s capitalized, going up 13-3 with 14:42 to go off a Jones triple.
Sophomore Jonah Travis recorded the Crimson’s first field goal with 14:04 left to pull Harvard within eight, but that’s as close as the Crimson would get. Jones found Ronald Roberts under the basket for a layup to put the Hawks back up by 10 with 12:42 to go.
The Crimson couldn’t find an answer for Jones in the final 10 minutes of the period, as the guard closed out the half with 12 points to lead the Hawks on a 21-16 run.
“Jones was outstanding,” Amaker said. “He was very efficient.”
Harvard’s deficit hovered around 20 points for the first six minutes of the second half, but the Crimson hit a dry spell midway through the period. After a Travis free throw with 13:52 to go, Harvard failed to score until 8:11 remained. During that stretch, the Hawks extended their lead to 40 points.
Rivard’s hot hand helped pull the Crimson within 19 by the final buzzer, but the loss still marked Harvard’s worst defeat since Dec. 22, 2010 when the Crimson fell at UConn, 81-52.
—Staff writer Martin A. Kessler can be reached at email@example.com.