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BOSTON, Mass.—Harvard junior point guard David Giovacchini had a chance to send the Crimson’s game against Northeastern to overtime Friday night, but his leaning three-pointer came up short as Harvard (0-9) fell to the Huskies (5-4) 61-58.
Both teams seemed to be doing their best to lose the game down the stretch.
Northeastern point guard Jose Juan Barea missed two free throws with 6.3 seconds left with the Huskies leading by three to leave the Crimson with a chance to tie.
Junior captain Jason Norman pulled down the rebound on the second one, but, with Harvard out of timeouts, Giovacchini was forced to take the desperation shot.
“We had a play organized,” Harvard coach Frank Sullivan said. “It got a little disorganized as the pressure happened on Dave and I think he just did the best he could…He was the passer on the play.”
Barea had fouled Giovacchini with 24.3 seconds remaining. Giovacchini converted both ends of the resulting 1-and-1 to bring the Crimson within four.
With 32 seconds to play, Harvard had turned the ball over on a five-second violation when Giovacchini was unable to inbound the ball and could not call a timeout in time.
Giovacchini, who had seen just three minutes of action in the first half, didn’t enter again until sophomore point guard Michael Beal fouled out for the fifth time this season after picking up his fourth and fifth fouls in a 10-second span with under a minute to play.
The Crimson never led, although the game featured five ties.
The Huskies built a 10-point lead as Harvard suffered through a field-goal drought lasting 6:33 between a Beal layup and a bucket by sophomore forward Matt Stehle.
That dry spell came with junior forward Graham Beatty confined to the bench after picking up his fourth foul with 13:57 to play.
In fact, foul trouble plagued the Crimson’s starting big men all game long. Stehle picked up his second foul just 2:50 into the contest and didn’t play for the rest of the first half.
“Matt clearly has to learn how to play with one foul early in the game,” Sullivan said. “He really makes our team offense a lot easier…He’s had too many games for us right now where he’s only played half the game…He can’t be a 20-minute player.”
Losing Beatty and Stehle for long stretches left Harvard vulnerable in the middle, where Northeastern power forward Sylbrin Robinson, the America East Conference’s leading rebounder, pulled down 13 rebounds—eight of them on the offensive end—and blocked four shots.
“Thank God we got [their inside guys] in foul trouble early in the game and they didn’t play much in the first half,” Northeastern coach Ron Everhart said.
Even so, the Crimson had 14 second-chance points to the Huskies’ three.
Harvard leads the Ivy League in offensive rebounding, averaging 12.44 per game.
The Crimson struggled on the perimeter, hitting just two of its 19 three-pointers on the night and coming up empty on its 10 tries in the second half.
Harvard entered the game last in the Ivies in three-point field goal percentage.
Junior guard Kevin Rogus, the Crimson’s most accurate three-point shooter entering the night, was the biggest culprit, hitting only one of his nine attempts and missing all seven of his shots from behind the arc in the second half.
“When you lose games, you lose your confidence,” Sullivan said. “I think the guys are pressing very much. I think we saw that tonight with Kevin.”
After leading all scorers in the first half with 10 points, Rogus was shut out after halftime, with much of the credit going to Northeastern guard Marcus Barnes, a transfer from Miami.
But Barnes—the Huskies’ leading scorer—shot just three-of-12 from the field himself.
“We had put a lot of energy into talking about Barnes all week long,” Sullivan said. “We had a good bead on him.”
Rogus did add four of Harvard’s 10 steals, a career high, and pulled down a career-high six rebounds, which tied him for the team lead with Norman.
Barea, who was not even expected to play, had 14 points and added eight assists for Northeastern.
Barea had missed four consecutive games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.
“We went out for the starting lineups [and] I think our guys were like, ‘What? Who?'” Sullivan said. “Barea definitely caught us off base totally.”
Javorie Wilson led the Huskies with 19 points.
Beal tied Stehle for the team lead with a career-high 13 points, but also committed eight turnovers against five assists.
As a team, the Crimson had 23 turnovers and just nine assists, decreasing its Ivy-worst assist/turnover ratio to .58. Northeastern had 26 points off turnovers to Harvard’s 17.
Stehle added three blocks, increasing his Ivy-leading average to two per game, and a pair of steals in his limited playing time.
—Staff writer Alan G. Ginsberg can be reached at email@example.com.
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