The Crimson overcame an early 14 point deficit but could not respond to a late run by the Crusaders.
With 4:33 to go, the contest appeared ready to go down to the final play, as Harvard sophomore Drew Housman streaked in for a layup to tie the score at 63 all, capping a fifteen minute stretch of frenetic, rather sloppy play that featured all of the game’s seven ties and eight lead changes.
“A couple quick threes, and next thing you know, two points can be twelve,” senior point guard Jim Goffredo said. “At the same time, we weren’t able to score.”
From that point forward, the Crimson (1-3) saw the parity that they had struggled to build throughout the game crumble under a barrage of three pointers from Holy Cross (4-0). As the Crusader offense gelled, the wheels fell off Harvard’s due to a confounding match-up zone.
“Harvard was doing some good things, pushing the ball, beating us off the dribble,” Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard said.
“We went to the 1-3-1 [zone] in the last five minutes to stop the dribble penetration, it worked out really well.”
Just minutes earlier, highly touted Crusader guards Keith Simmons and Torey Thomas made up for their early-game dormancy by draining three three-pointers and a jumper from the top of the key to hold off a Crimson offense that seemed poised to break the game loose.
Harvard’s momentum had been building since the six minute mark of the first half, when it began paring a 29-15 lead on the strength of assertive offense by Goffredo and Housman. That momentum accelerated at the beginning of the second half with a 11-2 run that put the Crimson in the lead for the first time at 16:50.
The early second half run came from the hands of two players who had struggled against Michigan.
Goffredo, whose 6-15 shooting fell below expectations at Michigan, scored seven points during the run, and finished the game with 22 points on 8-15 shooting.
Meanwhile, fifth-year senior Brian Cusworth seemed determined to put his 6 point effort in Ann Arbor behind him, dropping four points during the 11-2 run, enroute to a 10 point, 11 rebound night.
“I honestly think of all of our guys, Brian put too much pressure on himself tonight to try to respond to a subpar game at Michigan,” Harvard coach Frank Sullivan said.
Cusworth’s frustration increased with his defense assigment--Crusader center Tim Clifford--who exploded for 22 points on 9 of 11 shooting , including a 7 of 7 shooting performance to start the game.
Throughout the contest, Harvard struggled to keep a lid on the Holy Cross offense, and ultimately allowed 56.9% shooting. The Crimson could only tighten the lead thanks to some hot shooting of their own.
“We’ve really got to be concentrating on the defensive end,” Sullivan said. “[Allowing] Shooting 50% is unacceptable, we have to get them below that 40% mark.”