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."
Crusaders Cross Up Men's BasketballUntil Saturday, the Harvard men's basketball team had opened its season by playing four good games, earning a 4-0 record.
Holy Cross Streaks By CagersThe Harvard men's basketball team's game against Holy Cross last night at Briggs Cage bore remarkable similarity to its season
Martin's Last-Second Heroics Earn WinThe second half slowly ticked away with the game tied. After combining for 26 goals in the first 48 minutes,
Holy Cross Denies Comeback AttemptWORCESTER, MA—As it goes with size and speed in basketball, it is said you can’t have it all. The problem
Men's Lacrosse Splits Opening Weekend Against UMass Lowell, Holy Cross