Between the great showing from fans and the rapid play on the court, it was a high-intensity afternoon at Case Gymnasium Saturday afternoon during this year’s battle between the Harvard University and Boston University men’s basketball teams.
Unfortunately for the team and the home crowd of 1,223, the Terriers (6-3) could not carry the momentum from the end of the second half into overtime and fell to the Crimson (9-1) by a score of 79-68.
“It was probably as good of a game as I expected it to be,” said BU coach Joe Jones. “It was a great college game.”
Similar to the Terriers’ loss against the University of Connecticut earlier this season, Saturday’s contest against Harvard was a game of scoring runs.
Despite a raucous crowd, Harvard went on a 12-3 run capped off by a 3-pointer from guard Siyani Chambers to give the Crimson a 24-15 lead with 7:46 remaining in the opening half.
Immediately after the Harvard scoring burst, the Terriers went on a similar run, and a 3-pointer from senior forward Travis Robinson tied the game at 24 with a little more than four minutes remaining in the half.
The final four minutes of the half were filled with turnovers, fouls and missed shots from both squads, resulting in little offensive output from the two teams.
After a put-back dunk from forward Kyle Casey, the Terriers fell behind 32-28 with 10 seconds remaining. BU senior guard D.J. Irving then carried the ball up the court, found a lane and drew a hard foul as he attempted a layup near the basket. Irving hit both of his free throws, sending the teams to the locker rooms with Harvard holding a 32-30 edge.
As the second half got underway, Harvard gained the early momentum. BU struggled to get defensive rebounds, giving Harvard multiple second-chance opportunities. That coupled with BU’s inability to hit shots caused the Terriers to fall behind 40-34 three minutes into the second frame.
Five minutes later, the Terriers regrouped and tied the game at 46 thanks to the play of Irving and junior forward Malik Thomas.
Despite BU knotting up the score, Harvard went on a 14-4 run to take a commanding 60-50 lead with 6:20left in the second.
Although they were down by 10 in the final minutes of the half, the Terriers battled back with a run of their own, which ended with arguably one of the most exciting minutes of basketball BU has played all season.
Down 65-58 with 50 seconds remaining, the Terriers brought the ball down court and passed it to sophomore guard John Papale. Despite not hitting a single shot up until that point, Papale let it rip from behind the arc and the ball banked in, igniting the BU bench.
On the ensuing Harvard possession, the Terrier press defense was able to force a turnover. After the steal, sophomore guard Maurice Watson Jr. found Robinson, who missed a 3-pointer, but a rebound and some ball movement gave Papale an open look from behind the arc, bringing BU within one with 27 seconds remaining in the half.
On the next Harvard possession, the Terriers were forced to foul the Crimson with 13 seconds remaining. Forward Steve Moundou-Missi went to the line for Harvard, but was only able to hit one of his two shots from the charity stripe.
After the miss, Watson brought the ball down court, and with the clock ticking toward zero, he made a dash toward the hoop and laid the ball into the basket to tie the score.
“I actually was just trying to find D.J.,” Watson said about his initial plan on the game-tying bucket. “But after I did a little in-and-out, I saw Kyle Casey, he didn’t step up to me, and then he moved. I saw the clear path so I went aggressively to the hole.”
A last-ditch effort from Chambers from 3-point range and tip-in attempt by junior Wesley Saunders with six seconds left did not succeed, and the game headed to overtime.
Unfortunately for the Terriers, they were unable to continue their success from the end of regulation and Harvard grabbed the advantage.
A slew of turnovers and fouls by BU in the waning minutes of overtime helped Harvard go on a 13-2 run to clinch the victory for the Crimson.
Following the loss, senior captain Dom Morris said his team may have given in after a few foul calls.
“It’s human nature when some things don’t go your way, and it could be a bad call,” Morris said. “I think we just gave in a little bit and it bit us in the butt.”