The number 22 haunted the Harvard women’s basketball team in its 68-61 overtime loss to Boston University at Case Gymnasium Monday.
For one, the Crimson (7-3) committed 22 turnovers against the Terriers (8-3), including a trio of fatal mistakes in extra time. Harvard jumped out to a 61-57 lead in OT but BU responded with a 6-0 run fueled by a steal that led to a layup.
While the teams were still separated by just one possession, the Crimson squandered its next two opportunities by sailing a pass out of bounds and committing a double-dribble violation. On the other end, the Terriers converted on its free throws to put the game away, snapping Harvard’s four-game win streak that dated back to Thanksgiving.
“When it gets down to the wire like that, we can’t have turnovers like that, and unfortunately we made a couple of mistakes,” senior forward Victoria Lippert said. “We got good shots too, but they weren’t falling, so just unfortunate that it didn’t go our way this time.”
Overtime could have been avoided when, with 22 seconds left in regulation, sophomore Temi Fagbenle stepped to the line for two shots with her squad down one point. But the forward missed her first attempt before salvaging the trip by converting her second shot to tie the game at 57. It would go into extra time after BU airballed a shot at the buzzer.
Harvard couldn’t overcome its mistakes due in part to the play of No. 22 on its roster, junior Christine Clark. The guard leads the Ivy League in points per game this season but recorded fewer than 10 points Monday for the first time this year. She finished with eight points on 4-of-13 shooting to go with six rebounds.
Clark also tallied four assists and eight turnovers while serving as the primary ball handler for much of the night as sophomore starting point guard Ali Curtis sat for the final 17 minutes of the second half and overtime. Curtis played just 16 minutes, her second lowest total of the year.
Even still, the Crimson almost came away with a victory. The teams fought a close battle near the end of regulation, knotting the score three times in the final five minutes. The last three minutes brought a struggle for Harvard though, as its only point scored came on Fagbenle’s free throw.
The Crimson struggled on offense throughout the second half, making just 33 percent of its shots from the field in the period and going one-for-12 from behind the arc after halftime.
“We got good looks, but in a game like that, you need them to fall in order to win,” Lippert said. “Our shots were good, so we’ll hit them next time.”
BU, on the other hand, went 10-for-24 from distance in the game, led by senior Chantell Alford, who was 4-for-10 on three-point attempts. Alford led all scorers with 23 on the night.
One of her treys came during a 9-0 run that tied the game at 39 after Harvard opened what would be the biggest lead of the night at 39-30.
While the Terriers were doing damage from the deep, the Crimson dominated the inside, using Fagbenle’s stature and co-captain Miriam Rutzen’s tenacity to outscore the Terriers 34 to 12 in the paint. Fagbenle finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds while Rutzen was the only other Harvard player in double figures with 12.
“We had some great tag-team play, Temi and I, and a lot of our forwards came in to play big,” Rutzen said. “We’ll take that any night, and hopefully that’ll continue.”
With fifteen first-half points from the duo and four threes from other contributors, the Crimson earned a 31-27 halftime lead before going cold from deep in the second half.
“Obviously, it’s very frustrating to lose,” Rutzen said. “We felt we were the better team, and we feel we still are the better team and so it’s unfortunate to walk away with a loss.”