BU scorched by Harvard’s hot hands

It was just one of those nights.

The Boston University men’s basketball team (3-2, 0-0 America East) took on Harvard University last night and nothing went right. After trailing by as much as 26 points, the Terriers closed the Crimson lead to seven late in the game but could not pull off the comeback, losing 76-60.

The story of the game was the first half, one that saw BU suffer in every facet of the game.

The Terriers dug themselves into a huge hole in the first half. If they weren’t having their passes intercepted by an overplaying Crimson defense, the Terriers were giving up open shots to Harvard from behind the three-point line. The Terriers turned the ball over 15 times while falling victim to the Crimson’s perimeter shooting in the first half. Harvard converted on 8-of-12 three-point attempts (66.7 percent).

The Crimson were led by guard Elliott Prasse-Freeman, who led the charge by connecting on 5-of-6 three-point attempts for 15 points in the opening half.

The contest was tight early on, but soon it looked as if Harvard couldn’t miss. Before the Terriers knew it, they trailed, 29-9, with 10:08 left in the first half. Harvard would never relinquish its sizable lead for the rest of the half either, as it controlled, 48-30, at the half.

“We were just very careless with the ball in the first half, and that caused them to get easy baskets,” said BU coach Dennis Wolff. “[Harvard] shot great in the first half. They had us back on our heels. They were hitting threes in transition. We did a poor job of finding the right guys, and we got ourselves in a huge hole.”

The second half followed the same course as the first, as Harvard continued to protect its lead and knock down long-range shots.

With 13:35 to play, sophomore forward Paul Seymour drained a three-pointer to cut the lead to 59-40, then hit a running jumper on the next possession. Freshman guard Kevin Fitzgerald then hit a lay-up to put BU on a 7-0 run.

After trailing, 57-31, in the second half, the Terriers mounted an impressive offensive push. They went on a 29-10 run, pulling the game to within seven with 4:21 left in the game. Then BU seemed to run out of gas, missing lay-ups and fumbling the ball out-of-bounds. An offensive foul late in the game by Dhondt proved to be the back-breaker.

“I thought we got good effort from a lot of guys. I don’t want to single anyone out,” Wolff said. “I though some guys played real hard. I thought some guys tried too hard.

“We played hard and we played with pride, but you can’t start playing midway through the second half. I told the kids they did come back and play hard in the second half. But at the same time, we got ourselves in way too deep a hole to get out of, and that’s a credit to the way Harvard played in the first half.”

Overall, the Crimson were 54 percent from the floor, which included 12-of-23 shots (52 percent) from beyond the arc. The Crimson also shot 85 percent from the charity stripe. The Terrier offense, on the other hand, was not clicking. BU shot 34 percent for the game and hit only 6-of-22 shots (27 percent) from downtown, and only 15 percent in the second half.

Some would be quick to blame the loss on BU’s 10-day layoff leading up to last night, but Wolff did not agree.

“It’s just the way the schedule fell, and I’m not going to use that as an excuse,” Wolff said. “I don’t want to take away from the way Harvard played.”

The numbers show the Terrier scoring attack struggled badly. Three Terriers reached double figures in scoring, but only five Terriers scored at all. Seymour scored 20 points while pulling down eight rebounds, both team-highs. Dhondt also chipped in 14 points and six boards before fouling out with 1:18 left to play. Grochowalski scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds.

Junior forward Billy Collins made his first appearance of the year in the first half of last night’s game. In 14 minutes of play he grabbed four offensive rebounds and one steal. He also turned the ball over four times and missed all seven of his field goal attempts. It was his first collegiate game in almost a year and a half.

“[Trying too hard] was clearly the situation with [Collins],” Wolff said. “That was his first college game in a year and a half. He’s been out, and he tried too hard.”

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