The women's basketball team made easy work of its first opponent this weekend but found trouble against the second. After a 69-42 blowout win over Columbia on Friday night, the Crimson lost a last second nail biter to the Big Red, 75-73, on Saturday.
Harvard (11-15, 8-5 Ivy) jumped out early in both games, posting a 9-0 opening run against Cornell (15-12, 8-6) and a 13-0 beginning against Columbia (9-18, 6-8). But the Crimson offense cooled off for the remainder of each opening frame.
While the Crimson could maintain its lead against the weaker Columbia squad, it would not recover from its offensive stall in Staurday night's game, going down 14 by the half after building its initial lead.
The spilt leaves the Crimson tied for second in the league with Dartmouth. The two will meet this Tuesday in their final game of the season to decide sole possession of second place.
Cornell 75, Harvard 73
When senior center Melissa Johnson knocked down two free throws seven minutes into the first half to tie the game at 15, it was the first points scored by a Harvard player other than freshman forward Hana Peljto.
Peljto, pacing all scorers with 25 points on the night, knocked down two three pointers and converted on a conventional three point play to give Harvard a 9-0 lead in the opening minutes.
"I found myself getting the ball in good positions, and the shots were just falling," Peljto said.
After a timeout, however, Cornell regrouped and went on an 18-6 run before Peljto hit another three at the 12:03 mark to tie the game at 18.
The score remained close as the teams exchanged baskets for the next seven minutes. But, at the 4:59 mark, Cornell sophomore Katie Romey knocked down a three that would start a 15-3 Big Red run to close the half.
The Crimson entered the locker room trailing 45-31.
After falling behind by almost 20 points just into the second half, the Crimson slowly fought its way back into the game. A three-pointer by junior Laura Barnard capped a 13-4 run and brought the Crimson to within six just before the midway mark of the half.
"I knew we could come back. We just had to play one possession at a time," said junior guard Jenn Monti.
After two free throws by senior Cornell forward Jennifer Linker, however, the Crimson found itself trailing 73-65 with less than three minutes to play.
Monti connected on a three to cap the next possession, and after the teams exchanged several free throw opportunities, Melissa Johnson hit a short jumper to pull Harvard within two at 75-73 with just 38 seconds remaining.
Following a defensive stop, Harvard called a timeout with four seconds remaining and one chance to tie or win the game. But a three-point attempt by Monti with one second left rimmed out, and the Crimson had to settle for a disappointing two-point loss.
"Our first option was to isolate the post, but a pass looked a little risky so I took the shot," said Monti. "[The shot] looked good, but it was just a little off."
Despite the last second miss, Monti played extremely well, scoring 15 points and adding seven assists on the night.
Barnard and Melissa Johnson each added nine points in the loss. Freshman Jen Lee was unable to play due to a concussion she suffered in Friday night's game against Columbia.
Linker led Cornell with 18 points but the Big Red's balanced offence saw five of its players score in double figures.
The win leaves Cornell with a share of third place in the league.
Harvard 69, Columbia 42
On Friday night, Harvard struck early and often in its blowout victory.
As it did Saturday night, the Crimson came out strong early on, opening the game with a 13-0 run.
Led by Peljto's eight first-half points, Harvard took a 22-14 lead into the intermission.
The Crimson then proceeded to open the second half with a bang as well, going on a 20-3 run that put the game out of reach for the Lions. Harvard's defense held Columbia to just under 27 percent shooting for the game.
"Friday night was a good team effort," Monti said.
Peljto and Lee paced the Crimson with 16 and 12 points respectively.
Dartmouth, who beat Columbia Saturday night, will be in town this Tuesday for the Crimson's final game of the season. The winner of the game will earn sole possession of second place in the league while the loser will fall into a tie for third with Cornell.
"We want to play well for the seniors and finish the season on a positive note," said Peljto.
The game will be at 7pm at Lavietes Pavilion.