In a frantic attempt to save the game, University of New Hampshire senior forward Denise Beliveau intentionally fouled 86 percent free throw shooter Christine Clark at 0:22. The sophomore guard hit both free throws. After Beliveau committed a turnover, senior guard Berry Brogan hit two free throws of her own to seal the Harvard women’s basketball team’s (3-4) second win in a row. The Crimson escaped Durham, N.H. with a narrow 69-62 win on Tuesday night.
After jumping out to a 15-2 lead behind the team’s strong shot selection, offensive rebounding, and pestering defense. Despite struggling for large parts of the second half, Harvard maintained a lead for most of the game against the Wildcats (3-4) last night, surrendering its advantage for a mere minute and 32 seconds.
The squad shot 44 percent from the field and went 8-18 from 3-point range.
The Crimson owed much of its success was due to help from the bench, which outscored New Hampshire’s bench 19-12. Harvard also owned the advantage in second chance points by the same margin.
Coach Kathy Delaney-Smith credits her team’s mental toughness in pulling out the victory.
“I think it’s really hard to lose a 14-point lead in an away gym and then come out with the win,” Delaney-Smith said. “I thought it took a lot of toughness and grit towards the end of the game to hang on to that one.”
Leading all Crimson scorers was junior forward Victoria Lippert who scored 17 points and went 7-10 from the field. Clark grabbed a game-high seven rebounds.
Brogan, Clark, and Lippert combined for 48 of the team’s 69 points.
“I think that’s who we’ve been all along,” Delaney-Smith said. “[Brogan, Clark, and Lippert] have pretty consistently scored in double figures for us. I’d like to have a little more balance in size; then again, we have some people who can score in the paint.”
It was a tale of two halves.
Harvard held the lead at the half 33-21, holding New Hampshire to 31 percent from the field and forcing nine turnovers.
“We started strong. We shot well. I liked our defense in the first half,” Delaney-Smith said. “And then for whatever reason in the second half—granted UNH played a little bit more physical—we just seemed to get tighter and tighter and make worse and worse decisions.”
The Crimson followed its dominant start with seven scoreless minutes. As a result, the Wildcats narrowed the margin to 15-9. But scores by juniors Emma Golen and Elle Hagedorn gave Harvard the double-digit lead it took to the break.
After an early half time-out, New Hampshire came roaring back. Junior guard Cari Reed, who finished with a career-high 32 points, brought the Wildcats to within 10 by sinking two consecutive 3-point attempts.
Brogan attributed Reed’s extraordinary performance to the Crimson’s defensive strategy. Reed scored eight 3-pointers, which was as many as she had scored that season up to that point. It was also equal to total number of points scored off 3-pointers by Harvard’s team.