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The Harvard men’s basketball team took a step backwards as it closed out its non-conference schedule with a 91-69 loss at Sacred Heart Wednesday night.
The Crimson (2-13, 1-1 Ivy) had held its last three opponents to less than 40 percent from the field, but allowed the Pioneers (7-6, 3-1 NEC) to hit at a 54 percent clip as well as 48 percent from behind the arc.
“They have a ton of speed at all five positions,” junior guard David Giovacchini said. “A lot of their baskets were layups in transition that resulted from us not getting back on defense fast enough.”
“They move the ball well in the half court offense and are very good at making the open passes,” added junior captain and forward Jason Norman.
Sacred Heart went on a 14-5 run to open the second half, extending its lead to 18 points. After the Pioneers stretched the lead to 20 with 10:48 to play, Harvard junior guard Kevin Rogus responded with two straight three-pointers to pull the Crimson within 14, 68-54.
An emphatic dunk by Sacred Heart forward Kibwe Trim put the finishing touches on an 11-0 run that gave the Pioneers an 81-56 lead with five minutes to play and put Harvard away for good.
The Crimson started out the game on fire offensively, securing a 19-12 lead with 12:47 left in the first half.
But as Harvard’s offense began to cool off, Sacred Heart’s picked up. The Pioneers tore off a 14-2 run to forge ahead 26-21 with 8:25 to play in the half. Two layups by junior center Graham Beatty and a three-pointer from freshman guard Jim Goffredo helped the Crimson pull back even at 28.
Norman scored the Crimson’s next seven points, but the Pioneer attack was just too strong, as Sacred Heart took a 45-36 lead into halftime.
Harvard shot 47 percent from the field on the game, but only converted 11 of its 24 opportunities from the charity stripe.
“[Free-throw shooting] hurt us a lot,” Norman said. “It’s an individual thing, and we just have to take it upon ourselves to get better at it.”
The Crimson also lost the battle inside, as the Pioneers held a 39-27 advantage on the boards, as well as a 40-28 edge in points in the paint.
“You can’t get outrebounded like that, because it creates fast break opportunities for the opposition and it speeds up the flow of the game,” Giovacchini said.
Sophomore guard Michael Beal picked up two fouls in a 1:09 span in the first half. Beal remained in foul trouble all game, finishing with four fouls in 24 minutes.
Sacred Heart’s win over the Crimson was the first in the four meetings between the two squads. Harvard finished its 13 game non-conference schedule with a disappointing 1-12 record.
The Crimson will not take the floor again until after exams on January 30th when it hosts Cornell at 7 p.m.
—Staff writer Michael R. James can be reached at email@example.com.
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