STORRS, Conn. -- Lots of story lines coming into this one. Harvard was in the Top 25 in both major polls for the first time in school history, and were the first Ivy League squad to be ranked there in over a decade. UConn is the defending national champion, the second slayer of the Bulldogs. Harvard and UConn had both played in the early season "Battle 4 Atlantis" tournament (could they have come up with a more ridiculous name?), which was won by the Crimson. The schools faced two common opponents there, in Florida State and UCF. Against the Seminoles, the Crimson won in regulation, while it took the Huskies overtime to finish them off. Connecticut fell to UCF by five in Nassau, the only blemish on their record, while Harvard brought a shiny 8-0 record into Gampel Pavilion, their best start since 1984-85. They were hoping to bring home a win in their first game as a doubly-ranked team, which would've given them a 9-0 start, matching the best the Ivy League has seen in more than four decades.
Played before a sold-out but not capacity crowd which included a sizable contingent of Harvard students seated up in the rafters, the first twenty minutes featured some very entertaining ball. Five total two-point dunk shots and several jump balls highlighted a closely-contested half that wrapped up with a slim, two-point advantage to the Huskies.
Out of the break, UConn began to turn it on, while Harvard struggled to put up quality shots. Over the course of nearly eight minutes, the Crimson found themselves on the short end of a 17-3 run they'd never recover from. The Crimson were able to climb back to as close as eight, but were never able to get over the hump and back into serious contention. The slow, methodical running of the offense that got them quality looks in the first half was replaced, as is so often the case when an underdog is facing a deficit, with too-quick three pointers that turned into long rebounds and fast break opportunities for the opposition.
While this certainly would've been a very memorable win for the Harvard fan base, I think they are still in for a memorable season. I suspect they will tear through much of the Ivy Leauge without trouble, and see the potential for an NCAA win or two on this squad (ala Cornell of 2009-10), provided they're able to stick with their methodical style of play, and don't rush shots if they get behind.
at CONNECTICUT 67, HARVARD 53 12/08/2011
HARVARD 8-1 (0-0) -- K. Casey 4-9 2-2 12; K. Wright 3-10 3-4 9; B. Curry 1-6 2-4 4; L. Rivard 2-8 0-0 6; C. Webster 3-8 0-0 8; O. McNally 2-3 0-0 5; W. Saunders 1-3 2-2 4; J. Travis 1-1 1-2 3; S. Moundou-Missi 1-2 0-0 2; C. Miller 0-0 0-0 0; K. Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-50 10-14 53. CONNECTICUT 8-1 (0-0) -- J. Lamb 6-13 3-4 18; S. Napier 3-10 2-2 9; T. Olander 3-4 0-2 7; A. Drummond 6-7 0-0 12; R. Boatright 4-10 2-2 11; A. Oriakhi 2-5 1-2 5; R. Smith 1-2 0-0 2; D. Daniels 1-3 0-0 3; N. Giffey 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-55 8-12 67.
Three-point goals: HARV 7-21 (O. McNally 1-2; K. Casey 2-3; B. Curry 0-2; C. Webster 2-6; L. Rivard 2-8), CONN 7-14 (J. Lamb 3-7; S. Napier 1-3; T. Olander 1-1; R. Smith 0-1; R. Boatright 1-1; D. Daniels 1-1); Rebounds: HARV 25 (K. Wright 5), CONN 31 (J. Lamb 7); Assists: HARV 14 (B. Curry 6), CONN 14 (S. Napier 7); Total Fouls -- HARV 12, CONN 11; Fouled Out: HARV-None; CONN-None.