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All eyes were on Colgate sophomore sensation Adonal Foyle as he strode into the Lavietes Pavilion last night. It was Harvard junior forward Chris Grancio who got the admiring looks on the way out, though.
Foyle, the nation's 8th leading shot-blocker and 16th leading rebounder, led his Red Raider mates into Cambridge poised for their third straight victory over an Ivy League opponent. In earlier wins over Cornell and Yale, the dominating big man had racked up 39 points and 25 rebounds.
But it was Grancio's night to shine. A career high 15-point performance, combined with his suffocating defensive job on Foyle propelled the Crimson (8-5) to a 63-54 home win.
Colgate got off to a quick start, taking advantage of Harvard's lax perimeter defense to shoot out to a 20-6 lead. As the Crimson defenders collapsed on Foyle inside, Red Raider guard Seth Schaeffer lit it up, sinking two three-pointers and a 15-foot jumper in a span of just 1:32.
"We weren't quick enough rotating back to the perimeter when we ran another man at Foyle," Harvard coach Frank Sullivan said.
Sloppy play by Colgate enabled Harvard to regroup, though, and five unanswered points by sophomore Mike Scott gave the home team its first lead of the game at 27-25. The Red Raiders kept their heads, however, and by halftime they had regained the advantage on their fifth trey of the half, 33-31.
Foyle had accumulated eight points and 10 rebounds by the intermission, but all was not right for the former Sports Illustrated coverboy.
"Adonal was unable to get any rhythm into his game," Sullivan said. "He didn't get his volume of shots, his points, or his rebounds."
Considerably more dismayed, though in agreement with Sullivan, was Colgate coach Jack Bruen.
"He's got a long way to go," Bruen said. "Everybody's got him in the NBA already, but he's like any other player."
Grancio managed to slow Foyle by fronting him near the basket and denying the pass inside. Without the over whelming presence or consistent scoring of Foyle, Colgate's offense lost direction in the second half.
"We choked," Bruen said. The Red Raiders shot a miserable 29 percent from the field in the second half, as the Crimson slowly built a 10-point lead.
Grancio and junior Kyle Snowden each reached double figures for the second half, and Mike Gilmore (16 points) added nine in the stretch run.
Late pressure brought Colgate back within three, but Grancio's superb defense on Foyle preserved the Harvard lead. In one particularly exciting sequence, Grancio, pushed the bigger, stronger Foyle away from the basket and reached around him to steal the entry pass.
"It was a career game for Grancio," Sullivan said.
With the loss, Colgate's record dropped to 3-9 on the season, though the team has already played one of the 10 toughest schedules in the country, with losses against such national powerhouses as Syracuse, Georgetown, lowa and Providence.
"I take full responsibility for this loss," Foyle said. "I just gave them the ball, and you can't do that."
As disappointed as Foyle was following the loss, he will continue to trudge on, even if the NBA comes calling.
"I plan on staying all four years at Colgate," Foyle said.
Of course, maybe he should escape to the pros come springtime.
After all, Chris Grancio is only a junior.
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