Spectators at the Harvard women's basketball game in Briggs Athletic Center last night probably thought they had wandered into Bright Center by mistake.
Princeton's forwards and center--who led the team to a 73-66 Ivy League victory--played more like the Crimson pucksters' first line on a power play than a trio of women cagers.
The first basket of the game featured 6-ft., 3-in. Tiger center Cathy Roberts feeding the ball to forward Jennifer Donnelly, who immediately dished it off for an easy shot underneath by Princeton forward Amy DeMattia. The Crimson (now 8-11 overall, 3-4 Ivies) never even put up a fight.
That one Tiger play was all it took for Harvard Coach Kathy Delaney Smith to call a time out--and get mad.
"I didn't like the way we started the game," Delaney Smith said. "We didn't play with confidence and it made me angry."
Over the next six minutes, the Tigers executed the same offensive strategy numerous times to run their advantage to 12 points. Roberts and Donnelly traded off buckets, and if one of their first attempts failed, Roberts--who shot 80 percent from the floor and netted 19 points--always got the ball in on the second try.
"[Roberts] was incredible," said Crimson junior Nancy Cibotti, who battled the center under the net. "She was really hard to box out," she added.
Playing in the high-post position, Roberts pulled down six offensive rebounds, with nine total boards for the game. Donnelly, who averages 14.5 points-per-game, had 18 points, nine rebounds, and five assists--all to Roberts under the hoop.
Harvard surged late in the first half, trailing by one, 30-29, at halftime after consecutive baskets by juniors Mary Baldauf and Barb Keffer in the final 30 seconds.
The women cagers came out of the locker room with an inside play all their own, as a quick feed from Keffer--who registered six assists on the night--set up junior Co-Captain Sharon Hayes for an easy lay-up and put the Crimson on top, 31-30.
Two more shots underneath by Hayes, and lay-ups from sophomore Sarah Duncan and Co-Captain Trisha Brown gave Harvard its biggest lead, 39-34, three minutes into the second half.
With Roberts benched because of foul trouble a few minutes later, it looked like the Crimson was on track for an upset over the third-ranked Ivy team--but Tiger guard Chris Adkins proved that Princeton had more than just an inside game.
After Donnelly put the Tigers ahead, 44-43, on a baseline shot with 11:29 remaining, Adkins went on an outside shooting spree. She netted seven jumpers to score 18 of her team-high 20 points in the second stanza--and sealed the win for Princeton.
"We couldn't shut [Adkins] down," Cibotti said. "She had a great shot and a really quick release."
Adkins wasn't the only hoopster with a great shot last night, as Cibotti went a perfect six-for-six from the floor to tie Hayes for team-high scoring honors with 14 points.
Keffer, meanwhile, moved into fourth place on Harvard's all-time scoring list. Her seven-point effort boosted her career total to 756 points, one more than last year's co-captain, Anna Collins.