NOTEBOOK: Men's Basketball at St. Joseph's
St. Joseph’s was wearing its silver home uniforms, but there weren’t many silver linings for the Harvard men’s basketball team Tuesday night.
The Crimson was run out of the gym, both literally and figuratively, by a bigger and more athletics Hawks squad at Hagan Arena.
Harvard’s 75-56 loss marked the first bump in the road for an inexperienced team that had opened its season impressively, blowing out MIT and Manhattan and nearly upsetting UMass on the road in between. On Tuesday, the Crimson closed the game on a 25-6 run, but that came only after the Hawks had opened up a 40-point lead.
Just as it did against St. Joseph’s last season, the Crimson fell behind early thanks to a hot Hawks shooting performance in the first half. But a year ago, Kyle Casey’s 26 points helped Harvard storm back to a dramatic five-point victory. This season, a young Crimson squad truly felt Casey’s loss for the first time, as it struggled to hang with the team picked to finish first in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll.
Harvard began the game 0-for-10 from downtown and did not hit its first three until there was just 8:11 remaining in the contest.
“I hope [it was just bad luck],” Crimson coach Tommy Amaker said. “It snowballs a bit when you can’t make a shot, and that’s what happens.... We’ve got to be effective and learn how to help our team in different ways even if we aren’t shooting or scoring very well.”
Meanwhile, the Hawks shot 40 percent from behind the arc, hitting 10-of-25 threes in the blowout victory. On the whole, St. Joseph’s dominated the pace of the game, taking 67 shots to Harvard’s 50—always a bad sign for a Crimson squad that prefers to slow things down.
In just his second contest of the season, the Hawks’ Carl Jones scored a game-high 24 points in 23 minutes off the bench. Jones, the team’s leading scorer a year ago, was suspended for St. Joseph’s first three games for violating the university’s community standards.
“That’s what [Jones] does,” Amaker said. “He’s a scorer.”
TURN BABY TURN
After forcing the Jaspers into 26 turnovers Friday night, it was Harvard’s turn to struggle with ball control on Tuesday, as the Crimson committed 18 turnovers to go with just seven assists.
“That’s the game,” Amaker said. “You could look at that stat right there and determine how poorly we played. It was very disappointing. We were sloppy with the ball and made [bad] mistakes.”
Sophomores Kenyatta Smith and Wesley Saunders turned the ball over on the Crimson’s first two possessions, setting the tone for what would be a recurring theme.
In the game’s first ten minutes, Harvard had seven turnovers and just one field goal. Chambers, who entered the contest with just five turnovers through 111 minutes during the course of his first three games, had that many in just 31 minutes Tuesday night.
All of those turnovers led to 24 Hawks points over the course of the game and were a significant factor in helping St. Joseph’s build an early lead it never came close to surrendering.