In its final game before the Ivy League season begins, the Harvard women's basketball team ended its non-conference schedule on a high note, topping Texas Christian University, 56-44, on Saturday at the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.
"I thought the game went really well for us," captain Brogan Berry said. "We came out the first half with great energy especially on the defensive end. I think we really set TCU back...I don't think they were expecting us to run with them as well [as we did]."
With the victory, the Crimson (7-6) is now 2-0 in 2012.
"We've been saying, 'new year, new Harv,'" junior Victoria Lippert said. "We've really just been trying to dial in our defensive presence … and really take our game to the next level mentally and with our execution."
This marked the first contest between the Horned Frogs (7-8) and Harvard since Dec. 6, 1992, when TCU topped the Crimson, 80-72.
Harvard took charge of the first half, running its lead to 12 by halftime. Thirteen of its 30 points came from Berry, who hit three shots from beyond the arc in the half. Harvard led the frame in shots from the floor, scoring 11 of its 25 shots, while the Horned Frogs only made 6 out of 23 for a lowly 26.1 percent.
Harvard also took advantage of Horned Frog miscues, scoring 16 points off of the 10 TCU first-half turnovers.
"I think the combination of our defense being really strong, being tough, and us pushing the ball early and quick really set them back. [It] allowed us to get an early lead that we were able to hold onto for the rest of the game," Berry said.
TCU upped its game in the second half, turning the ball over just five times. Yet, the Horned Frogs still struggled shooting, going just 8-of-36 from the field, and Harvard continued to capitalize on TCU errors, scoring six points on the five turnovers.
"[Our defense] enabled us to really get our offense going, too," Berry said. "So I think most of our game starts from our defense. It enabled us to push the ball early and have a comfortable and easy offense."
By the end of the frame, Harvard and TCU had each scored 26 points, but that wasn't enough for the Horned Frogs to overtake the Crimson's previous lead. Harvard's strong defense kept the status quo of the first frame—a 12-point gap between the two squads.
At the sound of the buzzer, the Crimson kept its “new Harv” appearance, topping the hosts by a comfortable margin.
"[Our strength] was our mental preparation and executing defensively on the court,” Lippert said. “[We were] just playing tough through the whole game, working on our team's strategy, and just continuing our defensive presence and effort for the whole 40 minutes."
Brogan led both teams in scoring, going 5-for-10 from the field and hitting four of her seven free throws to give her 17 points in the contest. With the performance, the senior now has 1,236 career points and moved to tenth on the Harvard all-time scoring list, passing Sarah Duncan ’89 by eight points.
"It's a huge accomplishment that I'm very proud of," Berry said. "[The program] has given me a great role all four years, and great coaching with Kathy and my teammates in the past have enabled me to play the game that I love. And in doing that I'm able to reach some milestones...that are amazing to achieve."
Lippert and Clark also had strong evenings for Harvard, with each racking up 13 points in the game. Sophomore Missy Mullins also had a good showing, starting for the first time in her Crimson career. She earned a career high and set the game high with 10 rebounds.
"TCU was a very talented team," Berry said. "Very athletic, very good rebounders. I think we're coming into the new year with a new attitude. We had a couple slip-ups in the first half of the season, and I think the last two games with UMass and TCU have really prepared us for Ivies, which are right around the corner."
—Staff writer Chelsea E. Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com.