One year ago, a raucous Lavietes Pavilion crowd was silenced by a loaded Cornell squad that shot over 50 percent from behind the arc, drilling 12 three-pointers on its way to a heartbreaking defeat of the Harvard men’s basketball team.
With four of that Big Red team’s five starters now graduated, Harvard turned the tables dramatically Saturday evening in a 78-57 win over visiting Cornell—now occupying the dregs of the Ancient Eight.
The Big Red leads the league in attempts and accuracy from long range, but the Crimson defended the three well, particularly after halftime. The hosts held the opposing squad to 5-of-16 three-point shooting, including only one make in the second half.
“They’ve been a dangerous team from three-point land; they shot 32 last night,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “We wanted to defend the three-point line…and see if we could play without fouling. We used that phrase of ‘defend the lines’: the three-point line and the foul line.”
The only remaining starter from last season’s team—which made it all the way to the Sweet 16—junior guard Chris Wroblewski had a difficult night of his own, missing 10 of the 13 shots he took from the field and picking up just seven points, far below his season average of 15.5 per game.
A night after handling Columbia star Noruwa Agho, Crimson sophomore guard Brandyn Curry locked up his next assignment, forcing Wroblewski into difficult opportunities and hampering his ability to make plays.
Unable to convert from the outside and lacking a reliable post presence on its roster, the Big Red’s primary source of offense turned out to be sophomore forward Errick Peck, who had been suffering from stomach problems earlier in the day.
He showed no signs of it, as he tormented the Harvard defense with his athleticism and versatility, dropping 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor.
Effortlessly drilling a pair of three-pointers, Peck was a force inside too. His athletic three-point play off an offensive rebound cut the Harvard lead to 43-38 two minutes into the second half.
But Peck was the lone scorer in double digits for Cornell—a stark contrast with the firepower of the Crimson.
INSIDE AND OUT
Last season’s Big Red team featured an array of weapons in the paint and beyond the arc. While this year’s Crimson squad may not be ready for a deep run into the NCAA Tournament, it is similarly capable of putting on an offensive showcase from anywhere on the court.
“Balance is the word for us,” Amaker said. “The inside-out combination for us is so critical.”
It worked to great effect Saturday night, when the home squad picked up 17 assists and four turnovers—a season-low.
As they did the night before, sophomore forward Kyle Casey and junior co-captain Keith Wright again led the way for Harvard, attempting 29 shots from the floor and collecting 20 rebounds.
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NOTEBOOK: Big Red's Three-Pointers Sink CrimsonIn the end, it was the dominant long-range shooting of Cornell’s Louis Dale and Ryan Wittman that defined the game and denied Harvard the upset.
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