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Holy Cross Crucifies Cagers

Crimson Defense Not Able to Hold Crusaders in 75-68 Loss

By Sean D. Wissman

Few things in life can make an honest man. His mother. His wife. Tight gym shorts. And, a late-game, all-out, jock-in-your-face, full-court press.

Harvard's men's basketball team found the latter truth out last night in a heartbreaking 75-68 loss to Holy Cross at Briggs Cage. For three-fourths of the game, the Crimson impressed all with a floor-burn festering defense and a gutsy offense. But in the final ten minutes the Crimson team of old showed up: the Crusaders applied a monstrous press, forced 12 Crimson turnovers and outscored Harvard 37-17 to get the win.

What made the loss even less kind was the fact that the exact same thing happened last season. In a game at Worcester, Harvard found itself up by 21 points in the second half, only to lose by four. This year's fall was less precipitous, but nonetheless disappointing.

"It was a disappointing loss, obviously," Sullivan said. "We started off well, but you've got to give Holy Cross credit. They knew we had problems with the press and they got aggressive. After that, it was the same old story for us--turnovers and missed opportunities.

"It's a question of composure," he added. "Good teams always have it down the stretch. Tonight, we didn't."

The players were more succinct.

"This was a tough game to take," junior Darren Rankin whispered. "For a while, we were going along so well."

That comment can be applied to both the Crimson's season and the game.

Harvard came into the game with a 2-1 record and loads of confidence. On Saturday, the squad battled back from a 40-31 halftime deficit to beat St. Francis, 79-68. A win last night would have given the squad its best start since the '84-'85 squad started out 4-0.

And, for most of the game, it looked like the team would have it. Until the end of the game, the Crimson looked like a new program.

The squad's three-quarters court man defense forced turnovers and kept Holy Cross mega-scorer Kevin Feaster (28.0 ppg last season--second best in the country) in check (13 points for the game). Meanwhile, its offense took advantage of a lazy Crusader "man" with an aggressive transition and balanced half-court movement.

At halftime, the Crimson led 29-28. And with 10:19 left, it led 51-38.

But then something strange happened. Maybe it was the blood shot eyes of Holy Cross coach Bill Raynor as he ordered the full-court press. Maybe it was the petty vituperation hurled by two overzealous Harvard fans in the second row. Or maybe it was just the thought of losing to the Crimson, an eight-point underdog going in.

Whatever the cause, the effect was clear: the Crusaders went crazy.

"They just seemed to go wild," sophomore Kyle Snowden said. "It was like they suddenly woke up. They were all over the place."

"There was no real rhyme or reason to it--it was helter-skelter," Rankin said. "It wasn't like most full-court presses. They just started coming after us in all directions. It made it very hard to find lanes going down the court."

And baskets. The Crimson would only hit six non-free throw buckets the rest of the game, while the Crusaders went on a tear, forcing turnovers and converting "gimmes."

With 3,47 left, Crusader guard Gordon Hamilton tied the game at 59 by picking Crimson captain Jared Leake (16 points) clean and laying in his reward. Two seconds later, junior guard Brian Lockhart (15 points) put the Crusaders up two by generating another steal and converting another lay-up. And so on. And so on.

Holy Cross never let up; the seven-point final score was the Crusaders biggest lead all game.

"The thing that's sad is that we didn't seem to kick back at all," Sullivan said. "We just seemed to roll over, and that's not a good way to take a loss."

The loss put the Crimson's record at 2-2 for the season. Its next action will be at home against Lehigh on Saturday. HOLY CROSS, 75-68 at Briggs Cage Holy Cross  28  47  --  90 Harvard  49  39  --  94

HOLY CROSS: Hamilton 6-10 1-2 14; Lockhart 6-6 3-4 15; Feaster 5-11 3-5 13; Rojik 1-2 0-0 2; Tutwiler 2-5 0-3 4; Bettencourt 2-5 0-1 8: Hart 1-2 0-0 2; Brown 6-10 5-6 17. TOTALS 29-51 16-26 75.

HARVARD: Leake 6-8 3-4 16; Gilmore 3 7 0-0 6; Snowden 2-3 0-0 4; Je. White 2-4 3-4 7; Rankin 6-9 3-4 15; Demian 2-8 0-0 5; Morris 3-4 1-5 7; Scott 1-2 0-0 2; Fricks 3-5 0-0 6. TOTALS: 28-50 10-17 68

HOLY CROSS: Hamilton 6-10 1-2 14; Lockhart 6-6 3-4 15; Feaster 5-11 3-5 13; Rojik 1-2 0-0 2; Tutwiler 2-5 0-3 4; Bettencourt 2-5 0-1 8: Hart 1-2 0-0 2; Brown 6-10 5-6 17. TOTALS 29-51 16-26 75.

HARVARD: Leake 6-8 3-4 16; Gilmore 3 7 0-0 6; Snowden 2-3 0-0 4; Je. White 2-4 3-4 7; Rankin 6-9 3-4 15; Demian 2-8 0-0 5; Morris 3-4 1-5 7; Scott 1-2 0-0 2; Fricks 3-5 0-0 6. TOTALS: 28-50 10-17 68

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