There seemed to be two schools of thought at play in Harvard's 75-66 overtime loss to Ivy League foe Dartmouth before a Lavietes Pavilion crowd of 1,466.
Dartmouth coach Terry Dunn was of the opinion Harvard's 13-day hiatus for exams had to affect the Crimson basketball team. "I just think when you have that long of a layoff, you just can't simulate game-type experiences," Dunn said.
But Harvard coach Tommy Amaker respectfully disagreed. In fact, neither he nor his players were having any of it. "I don't want our kids to use that as a crutch," Amaker said.
As far as Amaker was concerned, the reason the Crimson lost to Dartmouth for the first time in a decade at Lavietes had more to do with the fact Harvard committed 17 turnovers, failed to make its foul shots (17 of 27), and couldn't stop Alex Barnett, who helped the Big Green (3-13, 1-1) snap an eight-game losing streak by tallying a game-high 30 points on 11-for-16 shooting.
"I feel like we had so many chances to win the game, but we had no one to blame except ourselves," said Jeremy Lin, who led Harvard (9-7, 1-1) with 21 points on 7-for-14 shooting, including 6 of 11 from the foul line, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. Lin sent it into overtime with a lane-penetrating layup that tied it at 62 with 1.1 seconds left in regulation, but he wound up fouling out with 1:59 left in OT.
"They beat us to loose balls and were tougher than us," Lin said. "We don't have any excuses. I mean, you don't really have that many excuses when the other team comes in to your own gym and plays harder and tougher than you do, so that's completely 100 percent on us."
Eager to avenge a 63-62 loss to the Crimson Jan. 10 at Hanover, N.H., Dartmouth rebounded from an 11-4 deficit by scoring 12 unanswered points to take a 16-11 lead on Robby Pride's driving layup.
Barnett energized Dartmouth when he converted Dan Biber's pretty alley-oop feed into a dunk for an 18-14 lead.
"Barnett's a big-time player," Lin said. "I think he could be Player of the Year if his team ends up winning a lot more games down the road. Talent-wise, he could be the best, or one of the best players in the Ivy League."
After Dartmouth took a 34-30 lead at intermission, Doug Miller, who scored all 13 of his points in the second half, came out on fire and scored the first 8 for Harvard on a turnaround hook, a pair of foul shots, a baseline jumper, and a layup to pull the Crimson within 39-38 with 16:21 to go.
On Dartmouth's ensuing possession, Barnett picked up his third personal and was forced to sit for six minutes. Dartmouth extended its lead, though, to 46-40 on Biber's 3-pointer.
Peter Boehm found the mark with a trey to tie it at 48, which prompted Dunn to summon Barnett from the bench. Barnett wasted little time responding, hitting a jump hook.
After Dartmouth expanded its lead to 54-50, Lin helped Harvard take a 55-54 lead on a reverse layup off the glass and a stop-and-pop transition trey with 5:14 to go. The lead changed hands three times thereafter, with Barnett giving the Big Green a 58-57 edge on a foul-line jumper with 4:14 to go.
The Crimson squandered opportunities when Keith Wright and Lin both missed the front end of a one-and-one. A backcourt violation on an inbounds play seemed to doom Harvard, especially after David Rufful's fast-break basket and a couple of Barnett free throws gave Dartmouth a 62-57 lead, but Lin atoned when he followed a huge 3-pointer by Andrew Pusar with his layup that sent it into overtime.
Dartmouth came out in OT and scored on back-to-back baskets by Barnett and Pride (on a coast-to-coast layup) to seize a 4-point lead that grew to 6 (70-64, 72-66) and provided the buffer the Big Green needed to clinch it.
"We scrapped and clawed and put ourselves in a position to give ourselves an extra five minutes to pull it out and we weren't able to do it," Amaker said.
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.