Both the Harvard men's and women's basketball teams travelled to California over winter break and came up empty.
The men lost to Santa Clara, 80-69, and to Rhode Island, 80-67, at the Cable Car Classic in Santa Clara, while the women lost to third-ranked Stanford, 85-63, and Utah, 60-49 at the Stanford Invitational.
Despite the records, the trips were well worth it, said Captains Tyler Rullman and Erin Maher.
The men went 1-4 during the break, defeating Boston University on Saturday, 79-59, but losing to Colgate and Vermont earlier in December before travelling embarking on their West Coast safari.
According to Rullman, the last three games have shown marked improvement in the Crimson's play.
"Both our games were close," Rullman said. "Against URI it was close until the end, and we were in a position to win against Santa Clara. We're on a bit of a roll, now."
That was most evident against the Terriers. BU is not the team it was last year when it defeated Harvard, 85-84, but the pounding Harvard delivered this year is a sure sign of better times.
Rullman scored 30 points and junior Tarik Campbell added 19 points in the win. Campbell's point total has gone up in each of the last six games: from nine to 10 to 12 to 14 to 18 to 19.
"Tarik's asserting himself much more," Rullman said. "He can't be guarded. He just takes his man to the hole and dishes off or scores, which he's doing with more consistency now."
California has been the land of dreams and hope for many people. Will the Golden State work its magic upon Harvard? Rullman thinks it already has.
"We've proved we can play with some tough teams. Our confidence is way up," Rullman said.
The women only played two games over break, but one of those games was against Stanford, the likes of which nobody on the team had faced before. (Think of the men taking on Kentucky.)
"It was pretty neat," Maher said. "We were all anxious to see if they played on another level or not."
The answer, according to Maher, was not. Harvard kept the game close for the first 15 minutes before Stanford's transition game hit high gear and the Cardinal pulled away.
But Harvard gained an insight into what it's like to play at the top, and, more importantly, a little respect.
"Molly Goodenbauer [the 1992 NCAA tournament MVP] came up to me after the game and said that we had some of the best shooters she had played against," Maher said. "It was disappointing to come away with the loss, knowing that we could play with them."
Harvard faced Utah in the consolation final and succumbed to the Utes' tough pressure defense. The Crimson turned the ball over 24 times in the 11 point loss.
"We weren't in the game mentally, coming down off the big game against Stanford," Maher said.
Senior center Debbie Flandermeyer scored 16 points in the loss to Utah.