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Call 'em the Cardiac Kids. Or Frank and the Miracles. Maybe even the Wild Boys.
But whatever you do, call this year's Harvard men's basketball team Much Improved. After last night's 67-66 win over Dartmouth (1-4, 0-1 Ivy) at Briggs Cage, the Crimson (4-2, 1-0 Ivy) has established itself firmly as a team on the rise.
"This feels great, just great," said sophomore Darren Rankin, who scored a game-high 21 points. "We're on top of the Ivy now, and this was a great way to pull it out."
That "great way," which is quickly becoming Harvard's trademark in this young season, meant--you guessed it--an agonizing finish.
To set the scene: After fighting to a 32-29 halftime lead in a rough, wide-open contest, the Crimson extended its lead in the second half to as many as nine points, the last time at 61-52 with seven minutes left.
Harvard's offense stalled down the stretch against a suddenly energized Dartmouth defense, however, and the Crimson found itself down, 66-65, after the Big Green's Seamus Lonergan scored a layup with 15 seconds left in the game.
Enter freshman Kyle Snowden. The Harvard forward, who scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds for the night, received a Tarik Campbell pass inside and was fouled with just three ticks left on the clock. After Dartmouth called a timeout to try to rattle him, he calmly stepped to the free throw line.
"I wasn't thinking about anything except hitting those two free throws," Snowden said later.
Swish. Cheers. Swish. More cheers.
Ballgame, Harvard. Whew.
"I didn't hear a word Coach Sullivan said during that last timeout," a grinning Snowden said after the game. "I just wanted to get to the line."
One imagines that Sullivan will overlook his young star's inattention. After all, the 6'7" Snowden has developed quickly this season alongside Rankin to give Harvard a strong 1-2 punch inside.
"He's a very poised guy," Sullivan said of the Thayer Academy product. "For a freshman to step up like that in his first Ivy League game and win a game--that's just amazing."
Amazing indeed. The simple fact that Harvard defeated Dartmouth one year after two crushing losses to the Big Green was amazing enough.
Dartmouth Offense Still Sharp
Dartmouth didn't have its big man from last year, Duke transfer Crawford Palmer, but it still got 10 and 11 points, respectively, from Stan Kowalewski and Brian Gilpin inside. Throw in 19 points from Lonergan and 15 from captain Gregg Frame, an the Dartmouth offense doesn't seem that bad at all.
The difference between last season and this lay instead with Harvard's players. Start with captain Tarik Campbell. After a miserable shooting performance last December in Hanover, the senior bombed in 11 points last night, including two important three-pointers at the beginning of the second half, and also handed out seven assists.
Sophomore Mike Gilmore showed flashes of his outside shooting touch, tallying a solid 11 points for the night and carrying Harvard at one point in the second half with seven points in one 90-second stretch.
And then, of course, there were Rankin and Snowden inside. One year ago, as Sullivan pointed out, one was sitting on the bench for most of the game, and the other was playing high school games.
Last night, they were everywhere for the Cardiac Kids. Er, Frank and the, uh....
Who cares? The bottom line, as Dartmouth coach Dave Faucher put it, was that "We played well enough to win, but obviously, Harvard played just a little bit better."
HARVARD, 67-66 at Briggs Cage Dartmouth 29 37 -- 66 Harvard 32 35 -- 67
DARTMOUTH: Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Mitchell 0-4 0-0 0, Richards 1-1 0-0 2, Lonergan 9-13 1-1 19, Frame 6-13 1-2 15, Butler 2-2 2-2 6, Gilpin 5-7 1-2 11, Fisher 0-0 0-0 0, Capps 1-2 0-0 2, Halligan 0-2 1-2 1, Kowalewski 4-4 0-0 10 Totals 28-49 6-9 66.
HARVARD: Campbell 4-14 1-3 11, Leake 1-5 3-4 5, Gilmore 3-8 4-5 11, Morris 1-1 0-0 2, Mann 0-4 0-0 0, Scott 1-1 0-0 2, Snowden 5-7 5-5 15, White 0-1 0-0 0, Fricka 0-0 0-0 Rankin 10-13 1-2 21. Totals 25-54 14-19 67.
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