While it was Kyle Casey who finished the game for the Harvard men’s basketball team in its 74-69 victory over St. Joseph’s on Saturday afternoon, it was the Crimson’s other starting big man who kept the team alive early.
After scoring just eight points on 3-of-9 shooting at Boston College on Thursday night, co-captain Keith Wright carried Harvard’s offense throughout the first half.
The 6’8” forward posted 10 of his 16 points in the opening frame, shooting 5-of-8 from the field.
“Keith was huge especially because he struggled in our last game scoring and finishing on the inside,” said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker of the forward, who scored eight of the Crimson’s first 24 points. “He’s been our force. Being able to establish him early was key for us.”
When a Ronald Roberts’ jumper with 11:16 to go in the first half put the visitors ahead by 14, it was Wright who got the Crimson back in the game.
The forward went to work in the post, finishing the Crimson’s first field goal in over two minutes to pull within 12. Following a Papa Ndao turnover, Harvard went back to Wright, and this time the co-captain dropstepped his way to the basket and converted an easy layup.
Two minutes later, Wright brought the Crimson within five, converting a tough layup despite facing a double team. Wright added one more basket before the half ended, bringing his first-half total to 10.
Wright managed to have success in the post despite being guarded by the Hawks’ 6’9” forward C.J. Aiken, who entered the contest averaging 4.3 blocked shots per game.
“Once I saw that he was in me, I just used my body and my wide frame to create contact, so he wouldn’t be able to get that jump,” Wright explained.
Wright was quiet early in the second half, not attempting a shot until 10:36 remained in the contest. But he managed to add six more points on 3-of-6 shooting to close out the game, bringing his scoring total to 16.
Heading into Saturday’s contest, the Crimson knew it was going to have its hands full with St. Joseph’s talented backcourt duo of junior Carl Jones and sophomore Langston Galloway, who entered the game averaging 18.5 and 16 points per game, respectively.
The pair lived up to its reputation as a dangerous offensive package, combining for 37 points, more than half the Hawks’ total output, on 14-of-27 shooting.
“They’re extremely quick,” Amaker said of Jones and Galloway. “They obviously can make shots off the pass and off the bounce. They can get to the basket. They’re a handful. We talked about them being similar in a lot of ways to the guards [Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb] we had to go against at UConn.”
The pair was especially deadly in the first half, as Galloway shot a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and 3-of-3 from beyond the arc for 13 points. Jones notched 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting.