The Harvard women's basketball suffered two disappointing defeats over the weekend, as the Crimson was downed by Penn, 76-75, and Princeton, 86-71, in Ivy League contests at the Quakers' Palestra in Philadelphia and Jadwin Gym in Princeton, N.J.
The losses were a shock to the women hoopsters, who are the defending Ivy League champions and this year's favorite to win the title. The Crimson's league record now stands at 0-2, with a matchup scheduled against Dartmouth--Harvard's biggest challenger for the Ivy title last season--this Friday in Hanover, N.H.
No Alibi Ike
Harvard Coach Kathy Delaney Smith could have used a bevy of excuses to explain the two upsets. After all, the team was in the midst of a 10-day road trip, had flown in from Hawaii the day before the Penn game, and was playing its fourth and fifth away contests of the week--to make 11 straight road games with three more to go before the women cagers return to their homecourt on February 6.
But Delaney Smith refused to alibi for her team's losses.
"You could list the excuses forever," Delaney Smith said, "but I think you can be tough in away games. We just did everything poorly."
"We took Penn too lightly, I don't think we came out on the floor with the right attitude," she added.
The Crimson outshot the Quakers from the floor, 48 percent to a mere 38 percent, but Penn outrebounded Harvard, 51-49, and used the foul line to defeat the Crimson. Harvard shot only 50 percent from the free throw line to Penn's 72 percent, and failed on the front end of six one-and-one's--the key miss coming from junior Barbarann Keffer with seven seconds remaining and Harvard up by one point, 75-74. Penn's Bev Ford was fouled on the rebound, and went up the court to sink both her charity shots and put the Quakers ahead to stay, 76-75.
Saturday night at Princeton, Harvard played an improved ballgame, but was thwarted by an outstanding Tiger effort.
"[Princeton] played an absolutely excellent game," Delaney Smith said. "Our attitude was right and we adjusted our defense, but nothing would fall for us."
Some missed shots by the Crimson snowballed into an early 10-point lead for the Tigers, and the game just kept going downhill. Princeton went up by as many as 18 points, and though the women cagers battled back, Harvard failed to take the lead.
THE NOTEBOOK: Co-Captain Sharon Hayes continued her recent offensive attack, netting a total of 45 points for the weekend. The junior forward has now scored in double figures for seven straight games....Keffer added 20 points in the Penn game, while senior Co-Captain Trisha Brown and junior Hanya Bluestone chipped in twelve apiece against the Tigers....Sophomore Sarah Duncan pulled down a combined 14 boards for the Crimson, who was outrebounded by both the Quakers and the Tigers, 42-32....Keffer had seven assists for the weekend, leaving her just 17 away from breaking the Harvard career record in only her junior year....Dartmouth, the Crimson's next opponent, split over the weekend--losing to Princeton on Friday, but rebounding to defeat Penn the following night.