Boston College 69, Harvard 56
Free throws. They’re important. The Crimson attempted 23 and missed 14. Harvard lost by 13. You do the math.
Okay, that’s an overly simplistic numbers comparison, but this can’t keep up. Junior center Zena Edosomwan and sophomore forward Chris Egi combined to shoot 5-for-15 from the charity stripe by themselves. Come on. Harvard’s a defense-oriented team that wants to grind it out with some freshman backcourt threes thrown in. If you’re going to play that way, you better make the most of your foul line trips.
In other business, those threes. Harvard shot 53.8 percent from downtown, with rookie guards Tommy McCarthy and Corey Johnson each hitting three. Turnovers and a faltering second-half defense doomed the Crimson, though, and this team will have to get more efficient around Edosomwan (20 points, nine rebounds) if it wants to crack the conference’s top three.
Columbia 88, Lehigh 61
I did not expect junior forward Luke Petrasek to have this much impact this soon. Petrasek notched 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting and eight rebounds. Nine of those points came in the first 10:17 of the game, helping the Lions toward an early lead that they would continue to build on. Columbia outrebounded Lehigh, 36-24, a positive outcome even if the Mountain Hawks aren’t a strong boarding team. Eleven Lions scored at least three points and eight Lions posted at least two rebounds. A true team effort for a team with a very high ceiling, and senior guard Maodo Lo set the school record for career three-pointers (190) as a sweet bonus.
See Ian Wenik’s analysis of Columbia’s win for more on the Lions.
SMU 71, Yale 69
So very close. Yale took a 7-6 lead at the 15:55 mark of the first half and held that lead for all but 53 seconds over the next 27:20. It enjoyed a lead for so long thanks to sophomore guard Makai Mason stepping up to lead all scorers with 24 points plus seven assists. But senior forward Jordan Tolbert won the game for the Mustangs off the bench with 17 points, including seven in the last 3:08. Senior forward Justin Sears had a stronger second half, finishing with 15 points and four rebounds, including a three-pointer he banked in with 2.1 seconds remaining to gamely keep the Elis in it for that much longer. Senior guard Jack Montague drilled three of four trey attempts and finished with 13 points, three rebounds and two steals.
Yale and SMU finished tied in rebounds with 33 apiece despite the Mustangs enjoying a substantial size advantage. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs joined Harvard and Princeton in the “must get better at the foul line” department, hitting just 14 of 24 attempts, including crucial misses down the stretch by both Mason and Sears. Nevertheless, Yale proved it’s still for real at the No. 16 team in the country according to KenPom. With Mason, it clearly has one of the greatest players in the Ivy League, someone who can distribute the ball or take matters into his own hands anywhere on the court. With Sears, it has the reigning Ivy Player of the Year. With Montague, it has a bona fide sharpshooter. With senior forward Brandon Sherrod, it has an experienced frontcourt weapon who can defend and rebound well. Yale’s bench acquitted itself well against SMU too. The Elis are for real, but Ivy observers should have known that by now anyway. Yale’s next matchup happens to be at No. 5 Duke Wednesday, when the Bulldogs will try to knock off the defending national champion for the second straight season (Yale trumped 2013-14 NCAA champion UConn last year.)