My third game of the day could have been considered the main event of the evening. Harvard's success has become well known throughout the year and it is easily the most recognizable mainstream name of the six teams I'd be seeing during the day. They'd be facing a Brown team that had won two in a row, but would have their hands full against the Crimson, who beat Yale the previous night in what was the largest margin of victory in that series' 183 game history.
I knew I'd be late to the game as the previous game at Bryant started at 4pm while the Brown game would be at 6pm. I was hoping the Bryant game would end early, but the margin was too close for the teams to just dribble the ball out, so we stayed until the end. Smithfield isn't too far from downtown Providence, so I knew I wouldn't be missing too much of the first half.
My friend Jim and I were dropped off in front of the Pizzitola Sports Center by his wife who'd be exploring Providence while we'd be at the game. This saved us some time, as did the fact that I bought tickets about a month ago for the game. It was a good thing I did too, since the arena was jammed full. Jim was impressed with the seats since we were first row near center court right behind the Harvard radio team. He mentioned that it provided a different perspective, being eye level with the action.
When we arrived Brown was down 20-16. I was a bit worried listening on the radio that the game would get out of hand before I got there. The Crimson scored the first 7 points and had some early 10 point leads, but the Bears showed some resolve and didn't let Harvard run away with it. They were undoubtedly fueled on by the loud home crowd.
A Kyle Casey jumper gave Harvard a 26-20 lead with 7 minutes to go in the half. It took four minutes until either team scored again with a long dry spell of missed three pointers. The scoring kicked back in for the final few minutes and to the surprise of many the Bears were only down four at the half.
During halftime there was a great game between the Special Olympics and the East Providence Townies. It was awesome to see these guys (and one girl) give their all for this quick exhibition. They were all exhausted towards the end as they got their deserved standing ovation at the end.
The question of if Brown could keep this a game deep into the second half was quickly answered by Harvard when they scored the first 11 points of the half. Brown's leading scorer Sean McGonagill scored his first points of the game to get the Bears back on board. Jim kept calling him Professor McGonagill which I finally had to ask what he was talking about. I guess I needed to read or watch anything Harry Potter to actually get the joke.
While Harvard was up by double digits it's not as if Brown didn't have the opportunities to crawl back into it. Despite being over matched in size and athleticism the Bears were establishing an inside game. The problem is they missed a ton of layups and when they were sent to the line they only made 11 of 20 free throws, and 6 of those were when the game was out of reach. The interior defense may be a problem in the future for Harvard, but Brown wasn't exploiting it as well as they should have.
While I'm glad Brown packed the house you could tell this was the first game for some of those in attendance. While the students were loud in stretches, their efforts didn't seem too organized and it got quiet when Harvard started to pull away. I was also expecting a bit more witty chants from an Ivy League school, but "You Suck" and forms of Amaker or Harvard is a cheater were the shouts of choice. Jim informed me that while most Ivy League graduate programs are among the elite, the more you hang around any Ivy League school the more you realize it's a lot like any other. I'm sure many of you have a differing opinion on this, but I was starting to get that impression.
Brown could never get the game closer than 8 points. Any time they would cut the lead it seemed like the wide array of big time athletes among Kyle Casey, Keith Wright, or Steve Moundou-Missi would throw down an emphatic dunk or alley-oop to squelch a comeback.
Harvard is the class of the Ivy League and it looks like it will be tough for any other team in the league to put a dent into them. They should be a solid team heading into March and I was glad I was able to catch one of their games. I was even more appreciative that Jim and Abbe joined me on the day. It was nice having company as I had been making these multi-game trips solo so far. It was a good group of games we went to, but the night had just begun as we had some great food and a few drinks to wrap up a busy Saturday.
HARVARD 68, at BROWN 59 01/28/2012
HARVARD 18-2 (4-0) -- B. Curry 3-8 8-9 15; O. McNally 2-6 0-0 4; L. Rivard 1-3 4-4 7; K. Casey 9-15 2-2 20; K. Wright 4-6 1-2 9; S. Moundou-Missi 3-6 0-0 6; C. Miller 0-1 0-0 0; C. Webster 0-0 1-2 1; J. Travis 1-2 4-4 6; W. Saunders 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-47 20-23 68. BROWN 7-14 (1-3) -- S. McGonagill 3-13 2-2 11; S. Albrecht 5-10 0-0 13; A. McCarthy 4-10 5-9 13; D. Walker 5-8 0-4 10; M. Sullivan 3-10 4-5 12; T. Ponticelli 0-1 0-0 0; J. Harris 0-1 0-0 0; T. Lundevall 0-1 0-0 0; Y. Longi 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-54 11-20 59.
Three-point goals: HARV 2-8 (O. McNally 0-2; K. Casey 0-1; B. Curry 1-3; L. Rivard 1-2), BRWN 8-22 (S. Albrecht 3-7; J. Harris 0-1; M. Sullivan 2-5; S. McGonagill 3-8; T. Lundevall 0-1); Rebounds: HARV 38 (K. Wright 11), BRWN 23 (S. McGonagill 7); Assists: HARV 10 (B. Curry 4), BRWN 13 (S. Albrecht 4); Total Fouls -- HARV 14, BRWN 17; Fouled Out: HARV-None; BRWN-T. Ponticelli.