Sting lingers as Crimson move on

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The sting hadn’t lessened any.

Roughly 40 hours after a charging call on Kyle Casey negated the basket that would’ve won the game and at least a share of the Ivy League title for Harvard, the Crimson clearly still smarted on Monday.

Not because of the call, but because they had put themselves in that position to begin with. From up nine midway through the second half, to down one with 5.7 seconds left.

“It was a tough ending for us, but it was a call that the ref made,” Casey said before practice Monday. “I think it was a judgment call and it’s something that you live with. ... Honestly, we put ourselves in that position. Not closing the game out very well, not finishing defensive possessions and things like that.”

The Crimson led 49-40 with 8:10 to go, but scored just five more points as Zack Rosen brought the Quakers back with a 9-0 finishing kick.

In that stretch, Harvard committed five turnovers (including the charge call on Casey), missed four 3-pointers and had only one field goal (a Wesley Saunders dunk). Harvard finished with 20 turnovers and shot just 2-for-11 on 3s for the game.

“The turnovers were glaring, just really unfortunate and sloppy,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said.

“Offensively, we didn’t shoot the ball well in the second half. … [There were] a variety of different moments where I thought if we would have been sharper and tighter and better, maybe the outcome would’ve been different.

“But you give them a lot of credit. I mean Rosen made some really, really tough shots. He’s done it before, certainly. Made some really difficult, tough plays. He’s a great player.”

Now, for Harvard to win the title and play in the NCAA tournament, they have to win both of their final games and, if necessary, a playoff game.

To do that, Amaker said, it’s time to look at the details and not try to see the big picture.

“We can’t get wrapped up in all the other, hundred different scenarios that are possible,” he said. “That’s the way you start losing, and I’m hopeful that we won’t fall into those traps. … I’m gonna try to make sure that we’re focused on the task at hand. That’s my job and my focus with our team.

“We wish we could’ve won this past game and things would be a little bit different, but even if we’d won this past game we would still have to go on the road to win in order for us to say we’re gonna be champions. That hasn’t changed,” Amaker said. “We have a little bit more work to do, the margin for error is much smaller, as we know.”

“We just have to hone in this week and take care of business,” Casey said. “We need to focus and regroup and respond is what [Coach Amaker] often says about poor performances and losses. We really just have to come this week and have great practices and have great preparation and have a mindset to just go in and attack this weekend.”

And while the sting of the loss to Penn -- the first home loss in the past 29 games at Lavietes Pavilion -- won’t go away anytime soon, by focusing on Columbia and Cornell the Crimson can at least try to ensure they don’t get an even worse one this weekend.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.