Although the Harvard women’s basketball team found itself in contention for much of Friday’s game, the Crimson was not able to pull out the victory and lost to Michigan, 72-61, in Ann Arbor.
Harvard (4-2) trailed by seven points at halftime, but the Crimson took advantage of sound defense in the second half to tie the score at 43 with 13 minutes remaining in the contest.
The teams traded baskets for several minutes before the Wolverines (5-1) finally pulled away, going on a 7-0 run to take a 70-57 lead with less than two minutes to play.
“I was pretty disappointed we weren’t able to hold on and win,” Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “We had a pretty good game, but we had to be more disciplined in certain areas, and we weren’t. They’re a very good team, so we had to put it all together to beat a team like that. It’s disappointing that we didn’t win it, but we can learn from it, and we know what we have to work on.”
Junior guard Christine Clark continued to account for much of the Crimson offense, amassing 23 points and eight rebounds both team-highs. Clark shot 50 percent from the field in 39 minutes on the floor.
“[Clark] was again outstanding tonight on both ends of the floor,” Delaney-Smith said. “[She’s playing] very smart. Her experience now is kicking in. She’s making fewer and fewer errors, and she’s making great decisions with the ball. She’s doing a great job.”
Michigan benefited from the production of senior guard Kate Thompson, who led all scorers with 24 points, including 18 from beyond the arc, a number that more than doubled the total of the rest of her team from three-point range.
Senior guard Jenny Ryan also put together a solid performance for the Wolverines, accounting for 17 points and a team-high six assists.
The first major Michigan run came at the end of the first half, when the Wolverines outscored Harvard 9-1 in the final four minutes of the period to take a 36-29 lead at the break.
The Crimson eventually battled back and played with Michigan for the majority of the second half, culminating in a small Harvard lead, 46-43, with 12 minutes remaining in the game.
But a few minutes later, the Wolverines took over and scored nine straight points to seize control of the game with an eight-point lead.
The Crimson struggled offensively in the closing minutes and could not bridge the scoring gap, as missed shots and turnovers resulted in only nine Harvard points in the final nine minutes of play.
“I think they made a run when they needed to,” Clark said. “We weren’t able to pull together to get some defensive stops, and that’s what ultimately won it.”
Senior guard Victoria Lippert and senior forward Miriam Rutzen contributed nine points apiece, while sophomore forward Temi Fagbenle, who averages 9.0 points per game on the year, finished with a single point on 0-of-6 shooting.
Michigan took advantage of Harvard mistakes to pick up key baskets throughout the game, scoring 21 points off turnovers to the Crimson’s 11.