After a strong start by the Colonials, who jumped out to an early 4-point lead, the Crimson found a way to hang around before going on a 21-10 run to close out the first half in the final 7:35. In the second half, Harvard extended their lead to as many as 20 points en route to the convincing victory. The bench for the Crimson was outstanding throughout and outscored the Colonial reserves 43-21. Freshman guard Noah Kirkwood came off the bench to score 20 points and added 6 assists for the winners. Sophomore Justin Mazzulla led the way for the visitors with 11 points. With the home win, Harvard improves to 3-1 on its own court and 5-5 overall. George Washington, meanwhile, falls to 3-9 and remains winless away from the nation’s capitol.
Kirkwood was a game-changer for the Crimson from the minute he stepped on the floor. When he entered the game the Colonials held a small lead which was quickly erased by the energy Kirkwood brought to the floor. The 6-7 guard put on an offensive display. He knocked down 4-of-8 triples, most of which came within the offensive motions run by the Crimson. He also showed knowledge of the offensive plays often helping direct his teammates to their spots. He really let the game come to him and made plays for his teammates throughout the course of the game, leading to six assists, including two on wide open on cuts to the basket. He is aware of his advantages over an opposing player on both ends of the floor as evident by a jab step triple the top of a defender who was trying to deny a drive on the baseline and by pick-pocketing a Colonial guard who made an effort to get in the lane. Defensively, he really did a nice job on the opposing guards and helped prevent scoring opportunities inside the arc. This was evidenced by a poor offensive day from George Washington’s leading scorer, Terry Nolan Jr., who was held to just eight points.
Harvard’s junior forward Chris Lewis, a starter earlier in the season, but a reserve in this game, added eight points and six rebounds. He injected energy during his playing time and was very communicative on the floor, especially defensively. He was a big part in the Crimson run at the end of the first half, often directing his teammates on where they should be guarding and switching with them based on mismatches. At 6-9 he has solid length and uses it well to protect the rim. He recorded one block but used his leaping ability well in altering shots near the rim and out on the perimeter when switched out. He also showed great defensive footwork and prevented drives to the basket. Offensively, he displayed a lot of composure and patience and never forced anything too much. He showed a nice touch around the rim and worked hard to obtain good position to be effective. He made some good hustle plays and helped keep balls alive.
For the Colonials, it was another offensive struggle as they scored just 61 points. They currently sit 339th in the country in points per game. Defensively, they only had five steals and really struggled to prevent Harvard players from getting to their spots on the floor. 6-7 junior guard, DJ Williams was one of a few bright spots for the team. His effort was good, and he made several key hustle plays. He, like the rest of his teammates, struggled to make shots, but scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds. He portrayed a nice midrange game with a good shooting stroke, and it was evident that he can make more shots when facing the baskets. He was very aggressive on the boards and really showed his strength by taking some balls away from the Harvard big men. To his credit, he was the most communicative player for his team on both ends of the floor and despite the lopsided score, played very hard on every possession.
The 6-3 sophomore guard Mazzulla added 11 points and 4 assists while displaying a nice mid-range game. He made some nice drives to the basket including one to begin the game. He showed a nice ability to finish against taller and stronger players. Overall, he made 5- of-9 shot attempts. On the defensive end, he was active and made good reads, resulting in two steals.
Harvard players did a good job in executing the team’s game plan. They were really focused in delaying George Washington from getting into their offense until the latter half of the shot clock and forced several wild, and well-contested attempts.
Up Next: Harvard will play Mercer (5-7) away from home on December 29th in a neutral site. George Washington will play host to American (6-4), also on December 29th.