When the Harvard women’s basketball team visits Holy Cross on Tuesday night, the Crimson will look to reverse the two-game losing streak it currently holds against the Crusaders.
Fresh off two victories over North Dakota and Brigham Young, the Harvard squad (2-1) hopes to capitalize on its current momentum to defeat Holy Cross (1-2)—a team that was picked to finish third in the Patriot League.
“We’re pretty excited,” co-captain Emma Golen said. “We’re happy with our turnout in North Dakota, coming off a loss and [being] able to come out and play so well.”
The Crusaders opened its season with an 87-71 win over Yale. Holy Cross went 3-1 in non-conference play against Ivy League foes last year, besting Harvard, Brown and the Bulldogs, but falling to Dartmouth.
Last year, the Crimson fell to the Crusaders, 73-68, after holding a 13-point lead with 13:39 left in the second half. Holy Cross’ comeback was spearheaded by guard Alex Smith, who posted a double-double with 22 points and 11 assists. The then-sophomore led the team in assists last year, with 187.
“[According to Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith], Holy Cross...[is] our biggest archrival,” Golen said. “She was really disappointed with our loss last year. It shouldn’t have happened, so we have a different mindset going into this game. We’re making it a bigger deal than we have in the past.”
This year, the Crusaders will square off against the Crimson after dropping their last two games. Holy Cross was blown out by Boston College on Nov. 13, 71-52, and on Saturday, the team fell to New Hampshire on a Wildcats’ three in the final seconds of the matchup, 68-65.
Harvard will arrive at the Hart Center after a comeback win, 71-65, against BYU on Friday and a resounding defeat over UND on the road, 65-52.
This was the fourth-straight year that the Crimson has prevailed in its home opener.
“We love playing at home for our fans,” Golen said. “There’s nothing like playing [at Lavietes] so we had a lot of energy and a lot of excitement. It was a close game and we were able to play consistently the whole 40 minutes.”
The last minute of play between Harvard, and the Cougars saw two teams locked up at 63 apiece, only to be separated by a late trey.
With a minute remaining in regulation, Crimson forward Victoria Lippert broke the tie by drilling a three-pointer. After two free throws from BYU guard Lexi Eaton, Golen hit her second three of the night and ninth of the year to bring Harvard’s lead to four. She has missed just one three-point attempt so far this season.
After Golen forced a turnover from guard Ashley Garfield, Lippert sealed the win with two foul shots. The senior recorded her first double-double of the season and fourth of her career, with 10 rebounds and 15 points.
Junior guard Christine Clark led the Crimson in scoring with 18 points, going 8-for-16 in the paint and two-for-two in free throws. Sophomore Temi Fagbenle added 13 points in her first collegiate start at home.
All this action came after a sluggish first half. The Cougars took an early advantage, 8-4, in the first three-and-a-half minutes.