Sophomore Brogan Berry, shown here in earlier action, posted a team-high 15 points against Syracuse in the first round of the women’s basketball NIT, but the effort was not enough for the Crimson, as the squad fell, 86-67.
Postseason play was short-lived for the Harvard women’s basketball team.
Despite a second half that saw the Crimson (20-9, 11-3 Ivy) outscore Syracuse (23-10, 7-9 Big East), there was already too big of a hole for it to matter. Harvard fell in the first round of the WNIT, 86-67, Thursday night at Manley Field House.
“We didn’t play well in the first half at all,” Crimson coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “I was pretty disappointed, because I thought we practiced well, I thought we were ready. It appeared that we had all our pieces in place to compete with [Syracuse]. We took some really big shots early that didn’t fall, and that got under our skin.”
Sophomore Brogan Berry led Harvard with 15 points, shooting 6-of-10 from the field and 3-of-6 from behind the arc. Freshman Victoria Lippert scored 13 points, while junior co-captain Christine Matera added 12. Junior forward Emma Markley had 10 points along with four rebounds.
The Crimson made only 10 shots in the first half, shooting just 26.3 percent from behind the arc and 35.7 percent from the field. The Orange, one other hand, shot 58.8 percent from the field and connected on both of its three-point attempts.
“I had a lot of good looks in the first half,” Matera said. “I think the team had a lot of good shots in the first half against their zone—we just didn’t make them.”
It wasn’t only poor shooting that hurt the Crimson, but poor shot selection as well. Nineteen of Harvard’s 28 first-half shots were three-point attempts, only five of which connected.
“Offensively, we were very one-dimensional,” Delaney-Smith added. “We had spent the second half of the year going inside to our post players. Whether we end up taking that shot or whatever, we want to at least go through the low post with the ball. I don’t think we passed the ball into the paint or brought the ball into the paint once in the first half.”
Syracuse forward Kayla Alexander led all scorers with 22 points, including 16 in the first half. She also had six rebounds and two blocks.
“[Alexander] is 6’4” and a tremendous athlete,” Delaney-Smith said. “So that’s a tough matchup for us. You need to double that kind of a player.”
“I think maybe we were put back on our heels by their height and their athleticism,” Berry added. “And I think that threw us out of our game of getting the ball inside and getting easy ball movement.”
Harvard was outrebounded in the first half, 27-6.
“We did not rebound well, and this a problem that we have been plagued with all year,” Delaney-Smith said.
After starting out in a 5-0 hole, the Crimson tightened the game to 12-10 off two foul shots by junior forward Emma Markley. But Harvard would get no closer for the rest of the game, as the Orange used a 17-4 run to put the game permanently out of reach with 8:57 left in the first half.
Syracuse would go on to score 20 points in the final 6:39 of the half, leading, 55-30, at the break.