It was a game of runs. The Harvard women’s basketball team and Dartmouth took turns lighting up the scoreboard and shutting each other down on Saturday night at Leede Arena in Hanover, N.H.
But it was the Crimson (8-6, 1-0 Ivy) that ultimately prevailed over the Big Green (2-12, 0-1). With a season’s best shooting performance in the second half, Harvard trumped its Ancient Eight rival Dartmouth, 71-63, in its first Ivy League match of the season.
The Crimson seized control of Saturday’s game early with a 5-0 run and led the Big Green by as many as 12 less than seven minutes into play.
“We started the game really strong, and I never really like that,” said Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. “I like to start strong, but I think it can give you a false sense of security.”
Delaney-Smith’s concern was validated as Dartmouth began to chip away at the Crimson’s once-sizable 12-point cushion, going on an 18-2 run fueled by a trio of three-pointers from behind the arc.
“[The Big Green] had some young kids step up and hit some big threes, and it set us back,” Delaney-Smith said. “I don’t think we expected it.”
Dartmouth, which entered the matchup riding a nine game losing streak and sitting at the bottom of the conference standings, finally found its stroke, outshooting Harvard 43.8 percent to 36.4 percent over the final 11 minutes of the half.
Riding its hot shooting, Dartmouth grabbed a 26-22 lead and closed out the half on top, 31-30.
“We kind of got away from [Crimson] ball at the end of the first half,” said sophomore guard Christine Clark, who finished with 17 points. “We were very stagnant and started to take forced shots.”
But just as it did in the first frame, Harvard surged past the Big Green to start the second.
A jumper from junior forward Emma Golen and a three-pointer from classmate Miriam Rutzen in the initial 53 seconds of the half put Dartmouth on its heels and gave the Crimson the 35-31 lead.
And this time, Harvard did not relinquish its advantage.
“[In the second half] we tried to minimize the amount of shots they took on defense and force [our opponents] to take bad shots and turn the ball over,” co-captain Brogan Berry said.
Under the Crimson’s added defensive pressure, the Big Green turned the ball over a total of 17 times. On the offensive head, Harvard made it rain, knocking down its first six shots of the half.
The Crimson outscored Dartmouth in the second frame, 41-32, shooting 53.8 percent from the field and 62.5 percent from behind the arc—its best second-half shooting performance this season.