Saturday night’s dominant 71-46 victory over Brown (3-14, 1-5 Ivy) at the Pizzatola Center in Providence made it two straight weekend sweeps on the road for the Crimson. Harvard (12-7, 4-1) will put its four-game winning streak to the test this weekend in two huge conference games against Cornell and Columbia, both of which are nipping at the Crimson’s heels in the Ivy League standings.
Saturday night’s matchup with the Bears, on the other hand, wasn’t much for drama.
After opening its Ivy slate with a gritty two-point win at Yale, Brown has dropped its last five games: all five at home, all five to league opponents. The night before the Crimson came to town, the Bears had dropped an embarrassing 58-27 decision to Dartmouth on just 18-percent shooting from the field.
Harvard was able to coast even without production from two of its most dependable scorers. Senior forward Katie Rollins, who was injured in Friday night’s win at Yale, did not play against the Bears. Co-captain Emily Tay, the team’s second-leading scorer at 11.4 points per game, had just three points on 1-for-5 shooting from the field.
But the Crimson’s bread and butter this season has been sharing the load: in each of its 12 wins this season, Harvard has had at least three scorers in double figures.
Saturday night was no different: freshman point guard Brogan Berry led the way with 17 points, and sophomore guard Christine Matera came off the bench to chip in 16 points. Co-captain Niki Finelli and sophomore forward Emma Markley added 11 and 10, respectively.
“All we’re looking for on any given night is seven or eight players,” Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “The way this team is evolving, we don’t feel that any one person has to have a big game. If you want to take one thing away from us, you can. But you have to give something up to do that.”
That something seemed to be perimeter shooting, most of which came courtesy of Berry and Matera’s hot hands. Berry made an efficient contribution on 5-for-6 shooting from the floor (including 2-of-3 from long range), and Matera connected on 4-for-9 attempts from beyond the arc.
But to compete with Harvard, Brown would have needed sharpshooting guard Karly Grace to match Berry and Matera basket for basket. The Crimson zeroed in on Grace on the perimeter, limiting her to 10 points on 3-for-13 shooting (2-for-9 from distance). Bears point guard Courtney Lee (four points) also struggled offensively, frustrated by Harvard’s ability to keep her out of the lane.
“As always, we focused on defense,” Markley said. “The offense just happened to click. We knew we had to come out with a strong start.”
The cellar-dwelling Bears hung with the Crimson in the early going, but a 13-0 Harvard run during the middle of the first half put a quick end to any thoughts of an upset in Providence. The run included eight points from Matera (including two three-pointers) and put the Crimson up 27-12 with 5:35 to play in the half.
By the break, the game was all but wrapped up. Harvard had shot over 48 percent from the floor, and Brown had committed 15 turnovers.
[Brown] took a lot of chances,” Delaney-Smith said. “They just went for a lot of things and missed.”
The Crimson scored the first eight points out of the locker room, reaching its largest lead of the game (27) on a jumper from sophomore forward Claire Wheeler with 16:20 to go in the game.
—Staff writer Emily W. Cunningham can be reached at email@example.com.