Front-Court Play Keys Commanding Victory

Harvard uses solid defensive effort to set up overpowering offense

ROLL WITH IT
Raquel Rodriguez

Senior forward Katie Rollins, shown here in earlier action, was part of a post duo with sophomore Emma Markley that tallied a combined 26 points in the Crimson’s dominating, 72-49 victory over Siena.

As it began a stretch of six games in two weeks, the Harvard women’s basketball team was looking for a little momentum. A winless Siena team helped provide just that.

It was all Harvard, all the time yesterday afternoon at the Alumni Recreation Center in Loudonville, N.Y., as the Crimson (3-2) led by as many as 29 points en route to a 72-49 plastering of the struggling Saints (0-6).

“This was a great win,” Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “Mainly because we got the W, but more importantly because we did what we wanted to do. The numbers are where we want them to be.”

It was all about the defense and rebounding in Loudonville, with Harvard posting its best defensive effort of the young season. Siena guard Allie Lindemann (4-of-8 from long range) led all scorers with 18 points, but no other Saint could find the bottom of the basket—the hosts shot just 33 percent from the field on the afternoon.

“We want to be a defensive team, so holding a team to under 50 points is a great thing for us,” Delaney-Smith said. “Our challenge to the team was to put together two 20-minute halves defensively, and they did that.”

Senior forward Heather Stec has been the do-it-all forward for Siena this season, averaging a double-double and leading the team in scoring. Preventing her from having a huge game was key to the Crimson’s preparation, and Harvard delivered with a 46-32 advantage on the glass.

“We knew that [Stec] and [sophomore forward Serena Moore] were big rebounders and that we had to keep them off the boards,” Rollins said. “We did a great job of that, and it turned out to be key to our offense—when we get that quick rebound we can get out and run the floor. We did a good job of out-running them.”

“Siena did a lot of screening, and when teams do that, you get into trouble,” Delaney-Smith added. “We had sustained intensity and smart teamwork on those. We were helping each other.”

Tough Harvard defense keyed a transition offense that hadn’t been firing on all cylinders yet this season, scoring 26 points off the Saints’ 19 turnovers. In the half court, Harvard used a balanced attack to steadily build its lead, shooting 51.5 percent from the floor with a 7-of-15 mark from long range.

Crimson sophomore forward Emma Markley continued her standout offensive season with 15 points and nine rebounds to lead the victors, while fellow forwards Katie Rollins and Claire Wheeler chipped in 11 points apiece. Guards Emily Tay and Brogan Berry each doled out six assists.

“We made good decisions on offense as to whether to go into transition or pull back,” Rollins said. “We really connected and had a lot of unselfish play between guards and forwards.”

Coming out of halftime with a 12-point lead, Harvard withstood several comeback runs from the Saints before putting away its third victory. Back-to-back three-pointers from Tay and Berry made the score 48-30 with 13 minutes to go in the game, and a 13-0 Harvard run with under six minutes to play put the exclamation point on an already-sealed Crimson win.

Siena started the game with five straight points, but after the two squads traded leads, a three-pointer from co-captain Niki Finelli (five points) gave Harvard a five-point advantage it would never give back.

With seven games between today and Christmas break, and with a tournament in California over vacation providing no rest for the weary, the Crimson will have to make adjustments on the fly if it wants to win more than it loses before starting Ivy play.

After a less-than-stellar defensive performance in last weekend’s contest against Marist, this victory is a first step to doing just that.

—Staff writer Emily W. Cunningham can be reached at ecunning@fas.harvard.edu.

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