Harvard-Fordham Preview

Harvard got a stiff challenge from an Atlantic 10 opponent en

route to its latest victory.

It would probably prefer to avoid a similar struggle in the

Bronx.

Fordham, fresh off a win over an ACC foe, will take its shot at

the 22nd-ranked Crimson on Tuesday night at the Rose Hill Gym.

Harvard (12-1) had to rally from a 12-point deficit in the

second half to beat St. Joseph’s 74-69 on Saturday.

Although the Crimson trailed 48-38 at the break and didn’t take

the lead for good until Brandyn Curry’s basket with 1:49 left, they

seemed happy to have overcome a rare difficult test. The first

three victories on Harvard’s current four-game win streak came by

an average of 19.0 points.

“This is like a first-round game or second round of a

tournament,” forward Keith Wright said. “It’s going to help us in

the long run.”

Wright had 16 points against the Hawks, but it was Kyle Casey

who powered coach Tommy Amaker’s team with 26 points and 10

rebounds. Casey grabbed five boards on the offensive end and

finished 10 of 16 from the field.

The junior forward leads Harvard with 11.8 points per game,

bouncing back Saturday after totaling just nine in his previous two

games.

The Crimson had to regroup defensively in the second half

against St. Joseph’s, which was 19 of 24 from the field before

halftime and 8 of 27 after.

“We knew we needed to trust each other with help defense,”

Amaker said. “We emphasized trusting ourselves. We trusted our

shots. We trusted our defense.”

Fordham’s rebounding may have been the key to its 72-66 win over

Georgia Tech on Thursday. The Rams (6-6) outrebounded the Yellow

Jackets 45-30, improving to 5-1 at home.

“It’s a great win for us, for the program and the university,”

coach Tom Pecora told Fordham’s official website. “This is what our

vision is, of what we want our program to be with a great crowd and

a big-time opponent playing in the Rose Hill Gym.”

Fordham, however, has lost 21 straight against ranked opponents

since a 68-67 victory over then-No. 24 St. John’s on Dec. 9, 2000,

and that doesn’t include last season’s lopsided loss to

Harvard.

Laurent Rivard led the Crimson with 21 points, hitting 5 of 8

from 3-point range, in an 80-57 home rout of the Rams on Dec. 1,

2010. Rivard, now a sophomore, has hit 11 of 17 from beyond the arc

in his last four games.

This is Harvard’s final contest before it opens Ivy League play

Saturday against Dartmouth, although it has two more non-conference

games next week versus Monmouth and George Washington.

The Crimson, who jumped again this week to the highest ranking

in program history, know they’ve become a game opponents are

circling on the calendar.

“Teams know who we are,” Wright said. “We’re not going to sneak

up on anybody anymore.”

Wright, Harvard’s leading rebounder with 7.3 per game, will

surely tangle inside with Fordham’s Chris Gaston, who is among the

Division I leaders with 10 double-doubles.

The junior forward had a season-high 17 boards along with 23

points against Georgia Tech after posting 35 points and 15 rebounds

in the previous game, an 81-70 win over Texas State. Gaston,

though, is shooting a career-worst 41.6 percent and Fordham ranks

among the nation’s worst at 37.7 percent.