In what would be a fiercely contested back-and-forth game against Cornell (10-14, 6-6 Ivy), the Crimson (17-8, 9-2 Ivy) managed to pull back from a six-point deficit at the half to beat the Big Red, 63-56.
With nine minutes to go in the game, senior Katie Rollins took her second layup of the second half to give the Crimson a one-point lead. An vengeful Cornell team responded with two three-pointers, but Harvard remained relaxed and controlled.
“Our team is very good at crunch time, and that is kind of our weakness too,” co-captain Emily Tay said. “We wait until the final 10 minutes until we get a spark, and that’s when we know we have to play well. It was crunch time when we started playing better.”
As the clock continued to tick down, Harvard knew it was time to go. With six points from Tay and a jumper from sophomore Emma Markley in the last five minutes, the team began to play with more finesse and led the Big Red, 57-54. Tay would finish the game with a total of 16 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and a steal.
“The last 10 minutes of the game we really came together as a team and we played the way we know we can play,” freshman Brogan Berry said. “We played our game.”
With 30 seconds remaining, Berry would put in four free throws and a layup to complete Harvard’s win. Even with Cornell out-rebounding the Crimson, 46-42, Harvard proved it knew how to handle the Big Red’s offense in the final minutes.
“Coming in we had to play strong defense, take out their shooters and make sure we rebounded,” Markley said. “At times we had a little trouble executing that plan but we stuck with it. It was just a question of whether we were going to work hard enough, and obviously that showed at the end of the game.”
Harvard came out strong in the first minute of the game, starting with a layup by Markley. The Big Red responded quickly, but for each Cornell shot, the Crimson would take its own, keeping the game tied up for the first minutes. On a jumper by Tay and another layup from Markley, Harvard took its second lead of the game, 14-11.
The Crimson saw similar success from Berry, who made four shots, including two free throws and two assists in the first half. But with Harvard making four turnovers in as many minutes, Cornell would take the lead to end the half up, 31-25.
Despite being down, Harvard never doubted its ability to win. “After our 22-point comeback [against Princeton on February 20], we don’t ever think we are down or out,” Berry said. “We knew we had to stay composed and play the way that we can. Once we calmed down and started playing our game, it went well.”
Although both teams exchanged leads in the first half, with Cornell holding the upper hand four times compared to the Crimson’s three, the Big Red refused to let go of its halftime advantage. Starting the second half, Cornell’s Shanna Scarselletta took a layup to expand the Big Red’s lead, 33-25. Harvard responded a minute later with a layup by sophomore Claire Wheeler, but Cornell came back with a three pointer to take a nine-point lead.
“I knew once we had momentum our team would kick off,” Tay said.
Led by Tay and sophomore Christine Matera—who knocked in two three pointers with 15 minutes left on the clock—the Crimson continued to fight its way back in.
Coming into the last ten minutes of the game, the momentum began to change in favor of Harvard as Tay nailed two foul shots and senior Emma Moretzsohn contributed a layup. Rollins then sent in her first of two layups to give the Crimson the lead 47-46.
“Once that happened, things started turning around,” Markley said. “That’s when we took control.”
Co-captain Niki Finelli did not play this weekend and has now missed three straight games after suffering an injury on Feb. 20 against Princeton