CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — No silver linings in this loss for Saint Joseph’s. Or at least none that the Hawks seemed ready to talk about.
The Hawks blew an 11-point lead in the closing 10½ minutes and lost 74-69 to No. 24 Harvard on Saturday following an incredible first half of shooting that put them in position to come away with season-building victory.
“We lost. Nothing, really, we lost,” said guard Carl Jones, who led Saint Joseph’s with 22 points. “There’s nothing that really could come out of the game — maybe just learning how to hold a lead.”
Saint Joseph’s missed just five shots in the first half (19 of 24) and was able to hit only eight of 27 in the second.
The Hawks seemed like they were in control until Harvard started making defensive stops and nailing key shots at the other end of the court.
“We’re not good enough — plain and simple,” coach Phil Martelli said. “What we did wasn’t good enough. Nine of 16 from the foul line, two guys in double figures, it’s not good enough. I’ve been honest with this team. We’re inching up on being good, but we’re not there yet, and this is another indication that we’re not there yet.”
Kyle Casey scored 7 of his 26 points in the closing 4:25 as Harvard completed the comeback. Keith Wright added 16 and five rebounds, and Casey had 10 rebounds for the Crimson (12-1).
Langston Galloway added 15 points for the Hawks (10-4). Saint Joseph’s had a five-game winning streak snapped.
It was Harvard’s first home game ever as a ranked team.
With the Crimson trailing 68-67, Brandyn Curry hit a running one-hander in the lane to push Harvard ahead for the first time since the game’s opening 2½ minutes.
After a missed jumper by Jones, Casey nailed a 3 from the right wing on the next possession, making it 72-68 with 39.3 seconds left.
Harvard sealed it with two free throws by Laurent Rivard with 18 seconds left.
Harvard, which trailed by 11 points with 10:49 to go after Halil Kanacevic’s basket for the Hawks, sliced it 66-65 on Casey’s basket with 4:25 left. He was fouled on the play, but missed the free throw.
After Galloway missed a jumper, Harvard had a chance to take the lead for the first time since early in the game, but Jones had a steal and breakaway layup.
Casey then nailed a jumper, closing it to 68-67 with 2:48 left.
The Hawks led by 10 points at halftime and pushed it to 53-42 on Jones’ free throw with 18:14 to play. The Crimson cut it to seven points twice in the next 3 minutes, but Saint Joseph’s continued to hold them off, maintaining a comfortable margin before Galloway’s foul-line jumper pushed it back to double digits, 61-50, with 10:49 to go.
But the Crimson kept hanging close until they made a run.
In the first half, Saint Joseph’s started shooting exceptionally well and hardly cooled down, hitting 79.2 percent (19 of 24) en route to its 48-38 halftime lead.
The Hawks connected on 10 of their first 11 from the field, including two from behind the 3-point line, to open a 22-13 lead.
After a miss, they connected on their next two possessions and pushed it to double digits when Galloway nailed a 3 from the left wing and Ronald Roberts Jr. hit a short jumper in the lane, making it 27-13 with 11:11 to play in the half.
The Crimson had trouble matching up defensively as the Hawks players appeared to be driving the ball past defenders nearly whenever they needed to, setting up easy shots in the lane or feeding outside for mostly wide-open jumpers.
But Harvard, which trailed by double digits in the first half of a 21-point win over Boston College on Thursday, started to get going offensively and cut the gap to 32-28 by scoring 15 of the next 20 points. The Crimson relied on the inside scoring of Wright, who had six points in the lane, while Casey and Oliver McNally made 3s during the spree.
Saint Joseph’s pushed its lead to 46-33 on Jones’ 3 from the right wing, but Harvard closed it to 10 at halftime when McNally hit a 3 that bounced around before falling in at the buzzer.
(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)