W. Hoops Remain Atop Ivy
A record was broken, a pair of sisters squared off against each other, and one half of another sisterly duo tallied two double-doubles.
All in all, it was your typical Ivy weekend for the Harvard women's basketball team where anything goes and anything could go wrong.
Harvard (9-5, 3-0 Ivy) narrowly avoided disaster Saturday, staving off a 25-6 Brown run in the last ten minutes of the second half for a 73-64 win. That victory followed a 93-77 Crimson romp over Yale on Friday.
"This is classic Ivy League," said Harvard Coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. "I'm going to walk away with a win and be happy with that."
Harvard sophomore point guard Jenn Monti had 14 assists in the win over the Bulldogs (2-10, 0-2), breaking the Harvard single-game assists mark by one.
On Saturday, senior guard Courtney Egelhoff faced a familiar foe in Brown freshman Heidi Egelhoff, a driveway nemesis from their hometown of Portland, Ore.
And in both games, junior center Melissa Johnson, whose freshman sister Sarah is on the Crimson team, earned her stat lines, finishing with 13 points and 18 rebounds against Yale, and notching 15 points and 17 rebounds against Brown.
Harvard 73, Brown 64
Unfortunately, that determination didn't show until it was too late.
Behind by 32 points with 10:12 left in the second half, the Bears mounted an impressive run, only to be held off in the final minute as Harvard captain Laela Sturdy hit a clutch three-pointer to end a four-and-a-half minute Crimson scoring drought. She finished with 14 points on the night.
"In having Ivy League weekends, it's always harder on the second night," Monti said. "We played 30 minutes, and then 10 minutes we took off, and it showed in the score."
After sophomore center Lindsay Ryba hit a lay-up with 9:16 left, the Crimson managed just seven other points on the game.
"I think that there were some [player] combinations out there that I probably would do differently if I had it to do over again," Delaney-Smith said. "There were some times when there wasn't a lot of experience on the floor."
The last 10 minutes were a completely different game than the first 30, in which both Harvard's first and second strings dominated Brown's best players.
The Crimson got off to an 18-4 start, buoyed by Egelhoff's strong play. Matched up against her sister, she had three assists and two rebounds and a bucket in the first six minutes. But most impressively, she held sister Heidi Egelhoff to just four points on 1-of-8 shooting on the night.
"It was funny," Courtney Egelhoff said. "I had to just keep telling myself that she was just No. 20, and not my sister."
The Bears cut the lead to 10 with 7:25 to go on two free throws from freshman guard Barbara Maloni, who wound up with 18 points.
After driving the lead back up to 20, the Crimson carried a comfortable 38-21 edge into halftime on a driving lay-up from junior guard Carrie Larkworthy. She would add a three-pointer later in the second half.
In the second half, it was more of the same as Egelhoff hit a trey at 16:03 to open up a 25-point lead.
With the Crimson starting five largely off the floor, Harvard extended its lead to 32, its largest of the game, with 10:42 left to play on a three-pointer from sophomore guard Laura Barnard.
From there, the Bears switched gears and, led by 6'4 sophomore center Rachael McDonald, made their run, although the Crimson hung on for the win. McDonald had a game-high 22 points.
"[McDonald] did a nice job," Delaney-Smith said. "She did some nice things. We had to do a better job defensively [on her]."
The Crimson played without one starter in the game. Sophomore forward Katie Gates, who suffered a concussion the night before against Yale, was in street clothes Saturday. She was replaced by freshman guard Bree Kelley.
Harvard 93, Yale 77
The Crimson, with probably the tallest lineup in the Ivy League, outrebounded Yale, 46-24, in what was indicative of a lopsided game.
"Our starting five played really well together," Egelhoff said. "It was good team basketball."
Sturdy led the Crimson with 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Johnson had another big game under the glass, tying her personal best of 18.
Monti, whose record came against a tough defender in Yale sophomore guard Jamie Riposta, controlled the point for 36 minutes, hardly ever slowing the tempo down.
The Crimson worked the first half steadily in its favor. Never leading by more than 13, Harvard went into the locker room with a 42-31 lead.
The Bulldogs never let the game get out of hand in the second half, closing the Harvard margin to 50-45 with 15:10 to go.
But then, as Monti began driving and into the paint or spotting up for the three-pointer, the Bulldogs found themselves consistently down by more than 10 points for much of the second half.
With seven seconds left, and the Crimson up by 16, Monti made a tremendous move for her record-setting assist.
"It's good and it's an honor, but I don't feel like I do much," Monti said about her record.
Starting at the top of the key, she stepped right, took the ball around her back to the left, stepped into the lane and, in a fluid motion, hit a streaking Sturdy to her right with a perfect pass. Sturdy laid it in untouched.