Perez scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half and tied the score at 56-56 at the line (Laura Jacobsen).
LAWRENCE, Kansas – The Harvard men's basketball team had No. 4/6 Kansas on the ropes after battling back from a 16-point first-half deficit but was unable to complete the comeback, falling to the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse, 75-69.
Weisner Perez led the comeback with 15 points and nine rebounds off the bench, including 11 points and five boards in the second half. Zena Edosomwan contributed his third double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Tommy McCarthy added 11 points and five assists.
Harvard (2-6) shot 43.9 percent (25-57) on the day and outrebounded Kansas (6-1) 39-31, but committed 19 turnovers, including 15 in the first half, while allowing the Jayhawks to shoot 47.5 percent (28-59) in the loss. Frank Mason III scored a game-high 21 points to go with five assists and four steals.
Harvard is back in action Tuesday, Dec. 8, as it takes to the court at cross-town rival Boston University at 7 p.m.
Harvard flashed its athleticism early with a pair of dunks by Chris Egi and Agunwa Okolie, and Patrick Steeves tied the game with a floater along the baseline, 10-10. The Jayhawks began heating up from that point, however, and opened a 32-16 advantage thanks to a 22-6 run.
McCarthy and Steeves connected from distance to end the Crimson's drought, and following McCarthy's second triple the deficit was at 36-25. Harvard closed the half with a putback by Steeves, pulling to within 38-29 at the break.
Steeves scored a team-high seven points through the first 20 minutes with Edosomwan and McCarthy adding six apiece. The Crimson shot well at 44.0 percent (11-25), but committed 15 turnovers leading to 12 Kansas points.
The teams traded blows early in the second half with Edosomwan's turn-around jumper making it a 44-36 game. Corey Johnson hit his second 3-pointer of the frame to keep the margin at eight, 47-39, and following an Edosomwan putback Kansas was forced to call timeout, 47-41. Moments later Edosomwan found Evan Cummins crashing the lane for a two-handed slam before a putback by Egi cut the deficit to 50-47 with 12:20 to play.
Perez made it a one-point game with a basket in the paint, 50-49, but the Jayhawks responded with a pair of buckets to regain a 54-49 edge. McCarthy knocked down a contested 3 to beat the shot clock and pull back within 54-52, and free throws from Perez evened the score at 56-all with 7:35 remaining.
Perry Ellis scored five straight points to put Kansas back in front, 61-56, but an Okolie layup kept Harvard within striking distance, 64-60. With the shot clock winding down, however, Mason pulled up for a deep 3-pointer, putting the margin back at seven, 67-60.
Perez provided the answer with a deep two from the corner, 67-63, and another Okolie layup kept the margin at 69-64. Corbin Miller's 3-pointer made it a 71-67 game with 39.5 seconds to play, and Perez got to the rim on the next possession to put the score at 72-69. Kansas went 3-of-4 at the line in the closing moments, however, to escape with the 75-69 win.
Game Notes: Weisner Perez led Harvard in scoring for the first time this season and set career-highs with 15 points and nine rebounds … Zena Edosomwan turned in his third double-double of the year with 10 points and 11 rebounds … Tommy McCarthy has scored in double-figures four times and has led the team in assists five times … Harvard's 32 bench points were a season-high … Harvard has made at least five 3-pointers in all eight games to begin the season … Corbin Miller has made at least one 3-pointer in 11 straight games dating back to last season … Corey Johnson has made at least one 3-pointer in all eight games to begin his career … Kansas was the highest-ranked team Harvard has played since playing at No. 4/4 UConn on Dec. 21, 2010.