Unlike power-conference programs who have ample opportunities for marquee victories the next four months, Harvard's Ivy League schedule doesn't afford it many chances for noteworthy wins.
As a result, the Crimson may someday regret a poor second half at Colorado that doomed their chances Sunday afternoon.
Harvard squandered a 12-point halftime lead and fell 70-62 against the Buffaloes because its shooters went ice cold and its interior players had a hard time getting clean looks over the outstretched arms of Colorado interior defenders. The Crimson (4-1) made only four field goals in the first 16:53 of the second half and went 1 of 11 after halftime from behind the 3-point arc, not exactly the formula for a quality road victory.
The squandered lead leaves Harvard still in search of its first resumé-boosting win capable of boosting the Crimson's NCAA tournament seeding or elevating them into at-large contention should they somehow fail to win the Ivy League. Opportunities against UConn and to a lesser extent Boston College remain, as does a potential chance against Indiana State should both meet in the Great Alaska Shootout this month.
Harvard's potential NCAA tournament profile is a topic of conversation in November because the Crimson enter the season with higher expectations than any Ivy League team in recent memory.
Siyani Chambers, Wesley Saunders and the rest of the core returns from a young team that captured the Ivy League crown last season and toppled third-seeded New Mexico in the NCAA tournament. Also back are all-conference seniors Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey who were sidelined last season after being implicated in an academic scandal that caused over 100 students to withdraw.
All that talent should be enough to overwhelm most Ivy League opponents, but Harvard will need shoot better than it did in the second half on Sunday to beat the best teams on its schedule.
Some of it may have been fatigue from the altitude and the pace of the game. Some of it may have been a drastically improved second-half defensive effort from a Colorado team that prides itself on playing well on that side of the ball. Regardless, Harvard had no answers when Colorado finally got on a roll midway through the second half.
A 19-2 Colorado run began innocuously enough with just over 10 minutes to play when center Josh Scott made a layup to trim the Buffs' deficit to seven. An Xavier Johnson 3-pointer off a nice kick-out pass from Wesley Gordon gave Colorado its first lead with five minutes to play. Dinwiddie then found Johnson for another 3-pointer and hit one of his own to extend the lead to seven and give the Buffs the breathing room they needed.
Colorado's second half was a momentum builder for a Buffs team that had lost its only marquee game of the season against Baylor but is expected to finish in the upper echelon of the Pac-12 again this season. Winnable in-state road games against Air Force and Colorado State await Colorado before the Buffs return home for a long-awaited matchup with former Big 12 foe Kansas.
Harvard heads out on the road needing Chambers to get rolling, center Kenyatta Smith to get healthy and more 3-point shots to start falling.
The Crimson still have the firepower to be a potential March Cinderella. They just have to capitalize on a couple of their few chances for marquee non-conference wins in order to make sure their seeding is favorable.
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