Jeremy Lin, who had 30 points and nine rebounds Sunday at No. 13 UConn, rejects a dunk attempt by Jerome Dyson in the Crimson's 79-73 loss. (Steve Slade)
STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut, ranked 14th nationally by the AP and 13th by the coaches, got all it could handle Sunday afternoon as the Huskies needed a big free throw shooting day to down the Harvard Crimson, 79-73, at Gampel Pavilion.
Jeremy Lin tied a career-high with 30 points in a dazzling effort while adding nine rebounds and game-highs of three steals and two blocks to go with three assists. He made seven straight shots at one point, finishing 11-for-18 from the floor despite not scoring for the first 16:12 of the game - during which he had all three of his assists.
Harvard (6-2) was within five or fewer points on eight occasions, including 67-62 with three minutes to play after free throws from Christian Webster. Stanley Robinson then banked home a bucket with a hand in his face for UConn (6-1). After a Harvard turnover, Jerome Dyson went up for a slam but was stuffed by Lin. The Crimson could not convert at its end however, and UConn was able to make two free throws to keep Harvard at bay, 71-62, despite an acrobatic driving layup from Lin.
After Dyson sank a free throw, Lin drilled a triple from the top of the arc to again make it a five-point affair, 72-67, with 1:05 left. Andrew Van Nest came away with a steal but Lin's floater in traffic would not fall and UConn went to the free throw line to seal its victory. The closest Harvard would come was 77-73 following more special play from Lin, who capped his day with a crowd-awing two-handed jam and a fade-away jumper in traffic.
Harvard, already with quality wins against Rice and RPI#24 William & Mary, is back in action Wednesday night at Boston College in a rematch of last year's 82-70 Crimson victory.
Harvard stayed close early in the second half although UConn connected on its first five of its first six trips from the floor and eventually pushed its lead to 16. Harvard rattled off 10-straight however, including another big dunk from Lin and a triple from the corner by Brandyn Curry to make the score 58-52 with under nine minutes to play.
Harvard then got a pair of turnovers but could not convert from close range on both occasions and UConn was able to end the big Crimson run with three free throws. After UConn tried to pull away, a triple from Andrew Van Nest made it a 65-59 at the 4:59 mark and the Crimson had more opportunities to get even closer but poor free throw shooting hurt in the Crimson's worst showing from the stripe this season. At one point, Harvard was 7-of-14, finishing 11-of-18 (.611).
UConn made better of its chances at the stripe and got there considerably more, shooting 27-for-41. Dyson had 24 points and 14 rebounds while Kemba Walker had 20 and Robinson 18.
In the first half, Harvard outrebounded UConn, 23-19, while its bench outscored the home team, 18-3. Still, UConn rode Dyson for 16 points (7-11 FG) and a 41-34 halftime lead.
Early on, Harvard used a 7-0 run capped by a putback from Pat Magnarelli to take a 13-12 lead. At the second media timeout, UConn led 16-15 before a pair of triples from Walker in a 17-2 run to make it 33-17 at the 5:54 mark.
Harvard used another 7-0 run thanks to a pair of assists from Lin to cut the deficit to 33-24 at 4:15 and a second-chance bucket in traffic from Lin made it 35-29 with 2:02 left. Lin scored the last five Harvard points to make it 39-34, but Dyson converted a floater in the lane with one second left to give UConn its seven-point margin at the break, 41-34.
NOTES: Sunday's game matched two of the nation's top shot-blocking teams ... Harvard had entered the game with the program's best record to start a season since 1984-85 (6-1) ... Harvard has not been out-rebounded in the first half this season ... Two teams, William & Mary and Boston Univ., have outrebounded Harvard this season with the Crimson sporting a 2-0 mark on those games ... Lin moved into 16th place on Harvard's all-time scoring list, past former teammate Jim Goffredo '07, with 1,149 points.
Harvard Head Coach Tommy Amaker
"Certainly a very tall task for us to try to battle their front line, their quickness, their speed. You can't simulate those kinds of things."
"I was pleased with the great effort that we put forth here this afternoon, but certainly you need to play a flawless game to have a chance to win a game against this kind of terrific opponent in their home environment."
"Two of things we talked about were transition defense and trying to keep them off of the backboard. And taking care of the basketball. We felt like if we could somehow get positive possessions on the offensive end, see if we could get (Lin) in open space so he could make plays for our team - which obviously he did all afternoon."
Connecticut Head Coach Jim Calhoun
"First, congratulations to Tom and his team. They were better than I even thought they would be. They're a very good basketball team."
"They played 40 minutes the same way. When we let up, they took advantage of it, and that's what good teams do."
On Jeremy Lin
"He's a terrific basketball player. What I really like about him is he's athletic, more than you think so. He controls his temperament to a really nice tempo. He knows how to play. He's one of the better kids, including BIG EAST guards, who have come in here in quite some time...I really love his composure."