Before the season began, Harvard’s opportunity to host Boston College had the appearance of a game that could benefit the Crimson’s postseason resume. Tommy Amaker’s team may be the prohibitive favorite to win the Ivy League, but quality non-conference wins have the potential to serve as a buffer of sorts should the unexpected happen and they don’t win the automatic bid.
But with a schedule that had just two “marquee” non-conference opportunities Boston College’s 4-9 start did Harvard no favors, meaning that games against Colorado (which Harvard lost) and UConn have taken on added importance. Boston College’s visit to Lavietes Pavilion served as another tune-up for the Crimson in advance of conference play and the opportunity to move their win streak in the series to six straight games.
Harvard took care of business on Wednesday afternoon, taking a 17-6 lead just over nine minutes into the game and winning 73-58. Wesley Saunders, one of the Ivy League’s best players, accounted for 21 points and six rebounds to lead the way for a Harvard squad that’s now 12-1 on the season. Kyle Casey (ten rebounds) and Jonah Travis added 11 points apiece for Harvard, whose ability to get to the foul line made the difference in a game that featured 62 possessions.
Harvard outscored Boston College 23-12 from the charity stripe, and entering the game the Crimson’s free throw rate of 46.8 ranked 68th nationally. With front court player such as Saunders and Casey, not to mention a tough penetrator in point guard Siyani Chambers, it’s easy to see why that area would be a strength for Harvard.
Ryan Anderson led Boston College with 17 points and nine rebounds, but he and his teammates were unable to avoid a tenth loss of the season. The team that many expected to make a move in the ACC has become one that prospective NCAA tournament teams will look at with the idea that “we can’t afford to stub our toe,” and that’s not what fans had in mind for Steve Donahue’s team back in October.
While an Ivy League team having a six-game win streak against an ACC opponent is bound to raise some eyebrows, there was no surprise in Harvard’s win. And while the focus should be on Harvard’s building of an NCAA tournament resume, that fact certainly doesn’t bode well for Boston College.