Harvard had all the answers on Wednesday night, downing BC (11-4, 1-0 ACC) for a third straight year with a 78-69 victory in the annual Commonwealth Showdown.
The Eagles dropped their second game in the past three outing and lost to an Ivy League school for the second time this season (Yale on Nov. 18).
BC came out of the gate strong, showing a great deal of poise and toughness, jumping out to a 24-15 lead midway through the first half, but like many BC opponents this year Harvard just wouldn’t go away.
The Crimson (10-3) showed great resilience and fortitude the rest of the way as they fought back against the Eagles hot start with some technically sound basketball and terrific free throw shooting.
The Ivy Leaguers ended the first half on an 18-5 run, stealing the momentum, lead and ultimately the game from the home team.
In the end turnovers and free throws decided the game for both teams as Harvard scored 21 points off of 14 BC turnovers and made 23 of 24 free throws (96%) to the Eagles meager 4 for 8 showing at the charity stripe.
A career night from freshman guard Laurent Rivard didn’t hurt either, as the Quebec native led all scorers with 23 points in 33 minutes off the bench.
BC Coach Steve Donahue was even impressed by Rivard’s performance, saying “He’s a terrific basketball player and he played with a great deal of confidence. I think tonight he played the game of his life.”
But, Rivard wasn’t the only Harvard player making an impact on the night. The Crimson were very consistent throughout finishing with five players (including Rivard) scoring in double figures and four different players grabbing at least four rebounds.
The Eagles tried to spread the ball around early but as Harvard took control BC got out of rhythm and resorted to a more selfish style of basketball.
Coach Donahue looked on in frustration as BC stopped playing team basketball and focused on isolations and contested three pointers for much of the second half.
“There is no reason for that,” Donahue said, visibly irritated by the loss. “I was pretty happy with what we did out there in the first half for long stretches. But when they went bad out there at times we allowed it to snowball on us.”
BC did play well for stretches and even seemed to ignite the home crowd on a few different occasions, but with each momentum swing and every turn of the corner Harvard was there waiting with a response.
In the waning minutes, the Eagles were able to rip off a 7-0 run, closing the gap to five. But, as they had done all night, Harvard responded with nice ball movement and solid free throw shooting to cap off the victory.
Although Donahue was clearly upset by the loss he said this was a good lesson for his team to learn early in this young season, especially as they prepare for the ACC season to get underway.
“You learn from everything and there are positives in this. Every team is going to have moments where you get tested and we are being tested here. But, we are going to get over the hump and get back on track here,” Donahue said.
“We have had some great wins this season, we need to take our medicine, take it now and we are going to get better because of this.”
Game Notes: On the night, three BC players ultimately accounted for more than 71% of the team’s shots (41 of 57) in the game; Joe Trapani led all BC players in scoring with 21 points and added three blocks on the defensive end; Reggie Jackson finished with a solid stat line, putting up 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.