NOTEBOOK: Men's Basketball Hangs on Despite Defensive Mismatches
Before the first whistle was blown, Holy Cross had a head start. With the exception of 5’9” point guard Justin Burrell, the Crusaders four other starters boasted a collective eight inches on their Harvard counterparts.
The pair of Holy Cross 6’9” big men—forward Dave Dudzinski and center Phil Beans—came out on a tear, with Beans hitting an undefended layup to put the Crusaders on the board first. The Crimson continued to struggle with its post defense, as Dudzinski—who leads Holy Cross with 15.1 points per game—got going five minutes into the match.
Dudzinski finished with a team high 22 points—going 7-of-10 from the field and six of six from the charity stripe. The forward put up 13 of his points in the second half, as the Crusaders continued to find him in the post down the stretch.
“Teams are trying to take advantage of our interior, and that’s what Holy Cross did today,” said co-captain and wing Christian Webster following Saturday afternoon's contest at Lavietes Pavilion. “They have a lot of good shooters. We would stay with their shooters and then they would get open layups.”
Defense was crucial in the final minutes of the game, as the Crusaders—which had been down by 14 with 15 minutes to play—went on a 15-0 run to take a one point lead with 10 minutes on the clock.
After starting the game shooting 0 of 9 from the field, Harvard came storming back with 10 points to regain the lead in less than three minutes. Seven minutes into the game, Webster hit a three-pointer that tied the score, 6-6.
Following a Saunders layup on the next possession, Webster sunk another shot from behind the arc, giving the Crimson a lead that it would hold onto for the rest of the first half.
“Those two threes going in, I think, was a little bit of a confidence booster for us,” Webster said. “We had missed a couple shots before, so just to see it go in was good.”
As Harvard battled to maintain its lead late second half, Webster came up big with his third three of the night. Ahead by one point with 4:22 to play, a wide-open Webster took a pass from Chambers and sunk the jump shot, giving the Crimson a four-point cushion going into the final minutes of the game.
“He’s given us incredible stability,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “He’s made some big baskets for our team…. It was tight there, and he hit a big one right in front of our bench, and he did that in our last game against BU.”
Webster tied his season-high 13 points in his fourth consecutive start of the season. After being left out of the starting lineup for the first six games, Webster has seen his minutes go up this month, playing 36 minutes against Holy Cross after his first complete game of the season against BU last time out.
“I just think his confidence is high,” Amaker said. “He’s playing like a senior player should play.”
YOUNG AT HEART
Freshman point guard Siyani Chambers and sophomore wing Wesley Saunders led the Crimson with 14 and 15 points, respectively, against an experienced Crusaders lineup that featured two senior starters.