CHESTNUT HILL, Mass.—In a sloppy performance at Conte Forum, the Harvard men’s basketball team (1-3) lost its third consecutive contest Sunday afternoon, 69-56, to crosstown rival Boston College (3-0). The Crimson made just nine of its 23 free throws and turned the ball over 16 times, while allowing the Eagles to shoot 50 percent in a 53-point second half. It was the first time Harvard has lost three straight since February of 2009.
“For us to have a chance in a game like this, we have to be much better in areas like foul shooting,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “I was disappointed that we didn’t put forth better effort there on the little things that are necessary to win a game like this.”
The Crimson struggled out of the gate, ceding the first eight points of the game. By the first media timeout, Harvard had yet to score.
In the next 15 minutes, however, the Crimson would hold their opponents to just eight total points. Eagles star guard Eli Carter was blanketed by senior Agunwa Okolie, with Carter missing the six shots he took in the first 20 minutes.
Despite making just one of its six first half free throws, the Crimson entered the break up four, as the group held Boston College to just 24 percent shooting.
The second half could not have been more different.
While Harvard shot the ball well after the break—making half of its shots and four of its 10 threes—every basket was seemingly answered by two from the Eagles. Boston College made seven threes in the second half—many uncontested—and 22 of 27 free throws.
The 53 points that the Crimson gave up in the 20 minutes was more than an opponent scored against Harvard in four full games last year. Carter had 15 points in the half, with freshman reserve Matt Milon adding 16 for the game, including four made shots from beyond the arc.
“They are a solid basketball team, and in the second half in particular, they got their offense flowing and shot the ball well from three,” Amaker said.
Offensively, the Crimson failed to get into a rhythm for majority of the game. Harvard made seven threes but just 13 two-point baskets. While junior Edosomwan paced the team with 20 points and nine rebounds, the forward shot eight-for-18 and missed five of his nine free throws.
It was the turnovers, however, that turned the tenor of the game. Freshman point guard Tommy McCarthy was up and down all afternoon, finishing with a career-high 13 points but to go along with five turnovers and no assists. Carter twice took the ball from McCarthy at the top of the key, turning the live-ball turnovers into points on the other end. Boston College had just two fast break points but routinely found open shooters in transition.
McCarthy’s struggles with the ball were characteristic of a team that had just 12 assists on the day. Through four games, the Crimson is averaging three more turnovers than assists per game and shooting just over 40 percent from the field.
“[McCarthy]’s been thrown into the deep end right away with the schedule we’ve had to play and the matchups he’s had to go against,” Amaker said. “It is a process for a young player, and we have to keep his spirits right and his head up and keep grinding away. He has ability, and we think that he is going to get better.”
Edosomwan continued to be a bright spot for Harvard’s offense. The junior set a career high with 20 points, the second consecutive game he has set a career high in that category. Down the stretch, Harvard continued to feed the big man on every possession as he drew foul after foul on the Eagles’ set of big men—Dennis Clifford, Idy Diallo, and Johncarlos Reyes—who combined for six points to 11 fouls.
“Coach [Amaker] has been telling me as you continue to improve and learn you are going to expect the double teams, [with] the different guys being thrown at you, so you have to learn and continue to grow,” Edosomwan said.
—Staff writer David Freed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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