The road to a sixth consecutive Ivy League title just got tougher for the Harvard men’s basketball team.
Despite building an 11-point lead and shutting out Dartmouth (7-9, 1-1 Ivy League) through the first seven minutes of the second half, the Crimson (9-9, 1-1) went cold during a 34-10 Big Green run in the game’s final 11:40 and fell, 63-50, on Saturday night in Hanover.
PAYING AT THE FREE THROW LINE
Harvard has struggled from the free throw line all season, but never was it more on display than at Leede Arena.
The Crimson shot 6-for-20 from the charity stripe, compared to 20-of-26 shooting by the Big Green.
The most glaring errors came from forward Zena Edosomwan. The junior was shooting 50 percent from the line on the year, but made just 2-of-10 Saturday night.
Both teams went to the bonus early in the second half, and as Dartmouth worked to chip away at the Crimson’s lead, it looked to send Edosomwan to the line, which proved a safer bet than giving him a chance to score in the paint. While the junior led Harvard with 18 points, only six came in the second frame. After just one trip to the line in the first half, Edosomwan fired eight attempts after the intermission.
“He’s got to be a better finisher,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “Because one, he’s two to three feet away from the basket and two, if he does get fouled, he hasn’t proven to be a good foul shooter, so we’re not cashing in when we do get opportunities to get fouled from his movements and style of play.”
While Edosomwan’s foul line struggles were the most blatant, the rest of his team struggled as well. The cold shooting from the charity stripe kicked off with sophomore Chris Egi, who missed two free throws—in line with his 25 percent shooting percentage from the line this season. Statistically, seniors Agunwa Okolie and Evan Cummins were bright spots for Harvard’s free throw shooting, both shooting 50 percent from the line—team highs, but below the team’s season average of 59 percent.
SECOND HALF BREAKDOWN
Going into the second half, Harvard still had a chance to walk away with a comfortable victory at the end of the night as Dartmouth failed to score from the field for nearly eight minutes, allowing the Crimson to build an 11-point lead.
But even with senior forward Connor Boehm, who averages over 10 points per game for the Big Green, sitting on the bench with four fouls, Harvard could not put the game out of Dartmouth’s reach.
Instead of giving Harvard a chance to take advantage of Boehm’s absence, Dartmouth’s bench did not miss a beat. Even without Boehm, who ranks third on his team in scoring with 10.8 points per game, reserves like senior guard Malik Gill and sophomore guard Taylor Johnson came off the bench to provide a spark for the Big Green. Gill and Johnson finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively, with all of the duo’s points coming in the second frame.
“He’s very disruptive and he can push it in transition, and he made his free throws,” Amaker said. “When we’ve shown up to play against Dartmouth, home or away, he’s played well.”
While Dartmouth’s bench came alive with 33 points on the night, Harvard’s entire offense went dim. Senior forward Agunwa Okolie added 13 points and junior guard Corbin Miller had 10 in addition to Edosomwan’s 18 points, but no other player on the team had more than five points. Senior guard Patrick Steeves had a particularly tough time, shooting 2-for-8 and sitting for much of the second half with four fouls.
The 50-point performance was the second-worst offensive output for Harvard this season, who scored 49 points in a one-point loss to Holy Cross in November.
-Staff Writer Theresa C. Hebert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTEBOOK: Men's Basketball Boosted by McCarthy's Offense, Okolie's DefenseAfter losing its first three games against Division I competition, the Harvard men’s basketball team (2-3) ended its longest losing streak since 2009 with a 35-point rout of the visiting Bryant Bulldogs (2-3). Freshman Tommy McCarthy set career highs with 16 points and eight assists and the Crimson shot nearly 55 percent from the floor in the 80-45 victory.
Notebook: Freshmen, Defense Lead Men's Basketball to Win Over Howard
Notebook: Men's Basketball Has Historic Night from Three But Falls at ColumbiaDespite a career-high 31 points from sophomore forward Seth Towns, Harvard fell 83-76 against Columbia at Levien Gymnasium on Friday night. After jumping out to a 15-point lead behind a flood of early three-pointers, the Crimson defense gave up a 48-point second half to the Lions.
Notebook: Free Throws, Team Play Power Basketball Past CornellIn a season that’s seen plenty of notable individual performances from players such as Towns, Lewis, and a now injured Bryce Aiken, Saturday’s win for Harvard came from an all-around balanced effort.
Defense Helps Harvard in Low-Scoring Win Over Brown