NOTEBOOK: Men's Basketball Relies on Three-Point Arc in Win Against Cal
BERKELEY, Calif.—Entering its non-conference matchup against favored Cal, the Harvard men’s basketball team was averaging 15.6 three-point attempts per game this season. But Saturday night, Harvard topped that number in the first half alone.
The Crimson (7-4) recorded 17 attempts from deep in the opening frame on the way to a 10-for-27 effort overall and a 67-62 victory.
“I’m surprised that we took as many [threes] as we did, but we had them. They were shots that were open,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “I am disappointed that we didn’t shoot it better.”
Cal attempted just six long-range shots on the game, all of which missed their mark, as the Crimson outscored the Bears, 30-0, from beyond the arc.
And although the Bears (8-4) claimed a one-possession advantage toward the end of the second half, the Crimson held on to upset its California opponent at Haas Pavilion.
Of the 33 points Harvard scored in the first frame, 18 came from deep, with co-captains Laurent Rivard and Christian Webster leading the way with two threes apiece in the first frame.
“Our whole game plan…was try to stop the shooting,” Cal guard Allen Crabbe said. “But obviously we couldn’t contain them, so we didn’t do a good job at that.”
Although each Harvard player that attempted a three knocked down at least one, the Crimson dipped below its season average of 40 percent, hitting 37 percent of its shots from long range.
Rivard led Harvard in scoring with 19 points, knocking down five of his 12 attempts from the field—all from three-point range—and shooting 4 for 4 from the foul line down the stretch.
While the Crimson was quick to capitalize on its three-point shooting, Cal’s inside presence dominated at the start of the game.
With 9:45 to play in the first half, sophomore Steve Moundou-Missi scored Harvard’s first points inside the arc, finishing a layup off of a bounce pass from Webster. Until that moment, all of Harvard’s close-range attempts had been denied, as Cal blocked four Crimson layups in the opening 7:05.
The Bears’ forward Richard Solomon turned away five Harvard shots on the night—including four of his team’s initial five—as Cal tied the school record of 11 blocks in a single game.
Although the undersized Crimson lineup only amassed two blocks of its own, Harvard outrebounded Cal, 19-14, in the first half and finished the game with 33 to the Bears’ 34 boards. Cal entered Saturday night’s contest outrebounding its competition by an average margin of 7.6 boards on 40.8 rebounds per game.
“Statistically, [Harvard is] one of the poorer teams in the paint because they aren’t very big,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “But we couldn’t take advantage of that, and that was really tough on us.”