Three thoughts on Harvard’s 69-65 win over Penn Saturday night:
- Penn’s rotation is simply too thin
The Red & Blue went only seven deep against a Harvard squad that had 10 players who logged double-digit minutes, and Penn faded as its back-to-back weekend drew to a close. It was the third time in four games that Penn got outscored in the second half and the second time by 10 or more points. Fatigue may not be a culprit, but scoring load certainly is. Teams are keying on AJ Brodeur, and even when Penn gets good looks from deep and makes them (Penn was 10-for-25 from three-point range for a 40% clip at Harvard), it’s not enough. Granted, Dartmouth and Harvard have two of the three best defenses in the Ivy League, but with Ryan Betley sidelined and rookies accounting for 42% of Penn’s total minutes this weekend, it’s not hard to see why Penn’s offense hasn’t passed muster down the stretch.
2. Chris Lewis came up large
Chris Lewis has had some underwhelming games against Penn, going just 7-for-20 from the field in Harvard’s loss at the Palestra earlier this season and scoring in single digits in the three previous matchups against Penn. But Lewis was a pivotal scoring weapon early against Harvard, notching 10 of Harvard’s 27 first-half points in just 13 minutes on 4-for-6 shooting. Then Lewis hit all four of his second-half field goals, completing a tremendous turnaround a night after a two-point outing against Richmond Aririguzoh and Princeton the previous night. “He’s still our guy,” Justin Bassey said after the Penn win per the Harvard Crimson. “We are still playing inside out.” Harvard characteristically has one of the most efficient inside scoring attacks in the conference largely due to Lewis, and his rim protection has been essential.
3. Penn still hasn’t swept Harvard in the Tommy Amaker era
Penn last swept Harvard in 2007, Glen Miller’s first Ivy campaign at the helm and Frank Sullivan’s last. Penn’s had some pretty big wins over the Crimson in the meantime, but if you were looking for a statistic to capture just how much the Ivy old guard changed in the 2000s, you’d do worse than this factoid.