Halftime Lead Doesn’t Hold up Under Pressure

Colorado storms back to deny Crimson a win over a Big 12 opponent

After finally breaking its 15-game road losing streak with a win over New Hampshire last Wednesday, the Harvard men’s basketball team seemed to have finally shattered the other highest and hardest glass ceiling in America.

At Colorado on Saturday, the Crimson sought to assure fans and opponents alike that the standout win was the beginning of a new trend by pulling a second road win against the Buffaloes. However, things began to fall apart in the closing moments for Harvard, and Colorado swept past the Crimson, 70-57.

The Crimson’s high expectations had been built on the Buffaloes’ weak play thus far in the season.

“[Colorado] had their backs up against the wall,” senior Evan Harris said. “They were 1-1, having just lost to maybe an inferior team, and they banded together to take it.”

Following a consistent level of play throughout the first half, Harvard held a 34-29 lead over the Buffaloes at the break after freshman Peter Boehm canned a three with 46 seconds remaining to extend a slim lead. The half saw the Crimson match the intensity of Colorado, and the lead changed hands four times to go with an additional four ties.

The Crimson’s lead in the first half was keyed by its consistent shooting. The teams had similar shooting performances in the first half, with Harvard going 14-for-25 from the field compared with the Buffaloes’ 10-for-18. Colorado had the edge in first-half threes, shooting 5-for-11 from behind the arc to Harvard’s 4-for-9.

“We were unselfish, we moved ball around to each other,” Harris said. “You can see that from the scoring in the first half. We were working well as a team for the first 30 minutes. I’m pleased with that part of the performance.”

Leading the Buffaloes throughout the first half and well into the second, Harvard seemed to have the both the determination and ability to win the game. In the last six minutes, however, Colorado rallied back and leveled the score at 49-49.

“I think momentum had a large part to do with it,” said captain Andrew Pusar, who missed the game with a chest injury. “We lost rhythm, and that’s hard because momentum can change so quickly in college basketball.”

The Buffaloes continued with the momentum they had been building throughout the later minutes of the second half. Colorado overwhelmed the Crimson, with guard Corey Higgins dominating on defensive rebounds and forward Casey Crawford applying the offensive pressure. The final minutes of the game saw the Buffaloes sweep past Harvard with a tremendous 13-2 run, finishing the game 70-57.

“We weren’t moving the ball well in the second half,” junior guard Dan McGeary said. “Our offense was stagnant and [Colorado] just really stepped it up at the end.”

Freshman forward Keith Wright’s performance was one of the highlights of the game. Wright shot 9-for-15 from the field for a game-high 18 points and grabbed six rebounds, with four on the offensive glass.

“He’s playing great. He’s very mature, he’s got great hands, very patient,” Pusar said. “He doesn’t seem like a freshman at all, and we don’t look at him like he is one.”

The players acknowledge that the most crucial area that needs improvement is their overall sense of team.

“In order to improve, we need to trust each other,” Harris said. “The foundation is definitely there, but with this many freshman it’s harder to be familiar with each other. We are going to need the team to just come together in the coming weeks and feel more comfortable playing as a whole.”

The next challenge on the Crimson’s plate is tomorrow night’s game against Holy Cross, Harvard’s first home tilt of the season.