But the Crimson (13-11, 6-5 Ivy) retained those hopes after a dominating win over Yale (6-19, 3-9 Ivy), only to watch them vanish with a disappointing loss to Brown (14-10, 7-5 Ivy).
Harvard plays at Princeton next Friday night and has the chance to play spoiler against league-leader Penn on Saturday.
Brown 95, Harvard 70
On Saturday, the pre-game ceremonies honored senior Bev Moore and co-captains Hana Peljto and Tricia Tubridy. Peljto had scored her 2,000th point the night before, Tubridy was one three-point basket away from having 100 for her career and all of the seniors had their families in attendance.
But despite the fanfare, the seniors’ perfect goodbye to Lavietes was not to be. The closest the Crimson came to the lead was a 2-2 tie 46 seconds into the game, followed by a sweeping left hook from Bears center Holly Robertson 42 seconds later that put Brown up for good.
With 16:51 left to go in the second half, coach Kathy Delaney-Smith took out the three seniors and the other two starters, replacing them with a younger lineup, not as a tribute to the departing players, but in hopes of turning the momentum that had given the Bears a 57-30 lead.
“I was pretty angry at that point. I’ll probably rethink the game and wonder whether I should have done it in the first half,” said Delaney-Smith.
The first senior to reenter the game was Peljto with 9:50 remaining, and the only thing left to do was to help Harvard make the game look at least respectable.
The Crimson began the night with a turnover off the tip, an ominous beginning to a sloppy game. Brown’s quick guards, Tanara Golston and Sarah Hayes, blanketed Harvard, forcing 17 turnovers.
The Bears’ backcourt also relentlessly pushed the ball up the floor before Harvard’s 2-3 zone could set up, earning easy layups. Even when the Crimson managed to set up its defense, Brown would turn to its primary weapon—the 6’5 Robertson.
Robertson scored 27 points and went 11-12 from the field, showcasing her ability to use both hands and dominate inside. All of Robertson’s points came from inside the paint except for one three pointer, the only trey the Bears made for the entire game. Brown had no reason to shoot from outside the arc, taking only three trey attempts compared to Harvard’s 24.
The Bears shot an amazing 67.9 percent for the game, much to the disappointment of Delaney-Smith.
“Brown played out of their minds,” Delaney-Smith said. “I thought we didn’t have the defensive intensity.”
The aggression that Delaney-Smith wanted from the start appeared in the final 10 minutes, after Harvard applied a full-court press and began to force turnovers. Brown looked uncomfortable for the first time in the game and Lavietes Pavilion was the loudest it had been all night.
Harvard 84, Yale 60