Women's Cagers Edge UNH, 81-79
With 15 seconds left on the clock, the feeling that came over the hundreds of fans in Lavietes Pavilion last night seemed uneasily familiar.
The Harvard women's basketball team found itself knotted with the University of New Hampshire (9-9), 79-79, in the waning moments of the ballgame. The Crimson had just called a timeout and now had a chance to pull out its first close victory in six chances.
But where Harvard had fallen short on five previous occasions, it would soar this night--soar on the heels of junior point guard Jessica Gelman. As time ran down, Gelman drove right off an Allison Feaster pick and pulled up for an eight-foot jumper over two UNH defenders. The shot found the bottom of the net with three seconds remaining, and Feaster's steal of the ensuing inbound pass sealed the victory for the Crimson.
Harvard (9-6, 2-1 Ivy) had finally come out on top of a tight game.
"I just shot it...I have no idea how it went in," Gelman said. "In the end, we out-hustled them...because we wanted it."
"This is a huge win for us," Harvard coach Kathy Delaney Smith said. "I'm very proud that we stuck in there tonight."
Despite an ending sensational enough to become a segment on
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Schubert 0-2 0-0 0; Danker 10-17 9-12 30; Karl 2-8 0-0 4; Brandell 6-10 7-9 19; Colton 5-10 1-2 11; Caldwell 6-10 3-6 15; Kimball 0-0 0-0 0; White 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 29-57 20-29 79.
HARVARD: Reinhard 3-11 3-9 9; Black 1-3 0-0 3; Davis 6-10 0-1 12; Feaster 9-17 3-5 22; Proudfit 5-12 4-5 17; Seanor 0-1 1-2 1; Brandt 0-1 0-0 0; Gelman 6-12 0-0 12; Janowski 2-3 1-2 5; Gettelman 0-2 0-0 0. TOTALS: 32-72 12-24 81.
"Alcoa's Fantastic Finishes," the events leading up to the drama were nothing short of disappointing for the Crimson.
Following a driving layup from Gelman that put Harvard ahead 73-63, UNH called a timeout with 7:14 to play. The Wildcats came out of the huddle applying a full court press that seemed to rattle the Crimson and led to several Harvard turnovers.
New Hampshire's Sheila Danker (30 points, six rebounds) capitalized on Harvard's sloppy play to score 10 of her 22 second-half points and direct her team on a 10-1 run over the next four minutes before Feaster was able to drain a clutch three-pointer. However, two Danker jumpshots later, the score was tied at 77.
While UNH was unable to hit the front ends of two one-and-one situations in the final 25 seconds, Harvard co-captain Elizabeth Proudfit (17 pts., three rebs., three assists) converted two free throws down the stretch. Danker then answered with a running layup to set up Gelman's last-second heroics.
"I felt we were in control the whole game," said Delaney-Smith. "Then all of a sudden we got into a very scared, tight mode of play."
The game did seem to go Harvard's way throughout. Proudfit opened the scoring with a trey from the left side, but UNH answered quickly and pulled ahead in the early going.
That advantage was erased when senior guard Amy Reinhard (six pts., two ass.) drained the first of her shots from downtown to give the Crimson a lead they held until the 10:39 mark of the first half. Eight minutes later another Proudfit three gave Harvard the edge once again after Feaster had tied the game at 31.
Feaster, as she has throughout the season, led the way for Harvard. Despite playing with an injured ankle, she had 22 points, 14 rebounds and six assists on the night, making her presence felt on the defensive boards especially. She and senior forward Katy Davis played excellently underneath; Davis chipped in 12 points, as did Gelman.
"I was really impressed with [Feaster] tonight because she was in a lot of pain in the second half," Gelman said. "But she was grabbing boards and she wasn't letting it affect her at all. That girl's got heart."
Harvard held a 40-35 halftime advantage but saw that lead erased early in the second period. The Crimson recovered, though, and pulled ahead on a Davis layup with just over 15 minutes to play. Sparked by the aggressive play of freshman forward Rose Janowski (five pts., four rebs.), Harvard slowly increased that lead to as many as 11 before UNH made its final run.
"[Janowski] was a total spark....We really needed her tonight," Gelman said. "She did a great job."
The Crimson hopes to carry the momentum from this thrilling victory into the upcoming weekend against Yale and Brown. The remainder of Harvard's contests are all Ivy League games, and the players know they are now starting a championship run.
"I'm psyched," Proudfit said. "We're in good shape, and we're ready for the Ivy League."