Harvard’s defense schools UVM

Harvard’s pre-season Ivy League player of the year, Keith Wright, scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds as Harvard was able to hold off the UVM men’s basketball team 55-48 on Dec. 1.

Harvard’s defense, which ranks ninth in all of division 1, was stifling, holding the Catamounts’ shooting to just 35 percent from the field.

Wright, who has earned numerous accolades, including being named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 Watch List, combined with fellow frontcourt starter Kyle Casey for 21 points and 13 rebounds.

Offensively, the starting line-up for the Catamounts failed to get anything going early and head coach John Becker was forced to go to his bench. First-year Four McGlynn and sophomore Luke Apfeld led the Catamounts’ scoring, keeping them in the game.

At the half, the Catamounts were down 36-26 and saw little production from first-team All America East selection Brian Voelkel. The sophomore forward, who was averaging double-digit rebounds and led the team in assists entering the game, failed to record a rebound or a point in the first half.

The second half got off to much of the same start as did the first half. UVM was only able to convert a single free throw in the first four minutes, and Becker was forced to go to his bench once again.

Down by 12, McGlynn entered the game and provided instant offense. In consecutive possessions, McGlynn sunk a three, converted a tough lay-up in traffic and netted another three. Junior center Ben Crenca tipped in the following McGlynn miss to cap a 10-0 run, which put the Catamounts within two points of Harvard, 41-39.

In a game where the Catamounts looked tentative to take shots, coach Becker was pleased with McGlynn’s aggressiveness.

“He was great tonight and wasn’t afraid to take shots,” McGlynn said. “He kept us in that game.”

Unfortunately for the Catamounts, Harvard was able to take control of the game after the 10-0 run and extended their lead back to 10 with six minutes left in the second.

Vermont was able to cut the lead to four with 21 seconds left, but Harvard converted free throws and sealed their seventh victory of the season.

The story of the game was Harvard’s defense shutting down the UVM starting five. The bench scored 30 of UVM’s 48 points, and Brian Voelkel fell well short of his average numbers with a stat line of zero points, one rebound and two assists.

“Brian wasn’t ready to play tonight and never got into the game. He is a great player – he just had a bad game,” coach Becker said. “Our starters have to play better. Our starting guards were terrible, and it didn’t get much better in the second half.”

McGlynn, who led all scorers with 15 points, was the lone spark that ignited the UVM offense and the Catamount crowd.

“One thing that I have been able to do my whole life is score the basketball,” McGlynn said. “That was the first time I’ve ever played in a gym that has been that electric. It was great.”

The Catamounts fall to 4-3 on the season with the loss, as Harvard moves to 7-0 and is knocking on the door of the national rankings with quality wins over No. 20 Florida State, Central Florida and Utah.