Crimson Hopes to Regain Ground in Ivy Rankings
One week after the Harvard women’s basketball team (12-9, 5-2 Ivy) suffered a devastating loss to Princeton, the Crimson will attempt to bounce back on the road against Brown (14-8, 5-3) and Yale (14-8, 6-2) with second place in the Ivy League on the line.
Last Saturday, the Tigers (17-4, 7-0) came to Lavietes Pavilion and took no mercy against Harvard, piling on the points in an 84-56 victory. Princeton led by nearly 20 at halftime and extended their lead to 40 points at one time during the second period.
"We had a disappointing weekend last weekend," sophomore Christine Clark said.
After experiencing the humiliating loss, the team quickly changed its mindset to overcoming the defeat and winning its upcoming games.
"We won’t let the loss hang on our hands. We still have half of the Ivy League left and have confidence in the team," junior Victoria Lippert said.
After registering only eight assists in the loss to the Tigers, the team addressed its poor teamwork during the week.
"This week, we’ve been working a lot on communication and sustaining intensity, and that’s what we plan on doing against Yale," Clark said. "To move on from a loss like that [against Princeton], we need a win to fully bring us back."
The need to win will be as strong as ever for Harvard this weekend because the outcome of each game will carry huge implications in the increasingly tight Ivy rankings.
With the Crimson’s 5-2 Ivy record, Harvard is in third place in the conference standings, with the Tigers in first and Yale in second. A Harvard-Yale game is always special, but this time around, the two teams will fight for second place in addition to bragging rights. Because the Crimson came up short at home against the Bulldogs earlier this season, 68-63, Harvard will also attempt to take revenge and beat Yale on its home court. To accomplish the upset, the Crimson will have to slow down the Bulldogs’ shooters. Yale leads the league by shooting 33 percent from beyond the arc.
One key reason for Harvard’s loss to the Bulldogs last time around was the disappearance of co-captain Brogan Berry, who tallied only five points in the contest on 1-8 shooting. Since then, things have changed.
Suffering from a scoring slump, Berry said she called her dad last week, who was also formerly her coach, to ask for some tips for the Crimson’s upcoming games. The fatherly advice was apparently just what the senior needed as she netted 47 points combined against Penn and Princeton. By scoring 26 and 21, Berry scored 20 points on consecutive nights for the first time in her illustrious career. With 1,347 career points, Berry is currently sixth in Harvard history for points in addition to being third in assists with 492. The senior point guard could become the first Ivy player to accrue 1,500 points and 500 assists by the end of her collegiate career.
The Crimson’s first crack at redemption after last week’s loss will come against the Bears in Providence, R.I., on Friday. Harvard last faced Brown and came away with a home win on Jan. 29. Early on, the Crimson led by as much as 18 points, but with 4:31 left to play, Brown clawed back to tie the game at 54 points. Harvard rallied in the final minutes to re-establish a lead and finish with a 65-57 win, its second straight victory of the Bears. With Brown in fourth in the Ivy rankings, the Crimson will need a similar performance to avoid slipping further in the standings.
Clark said she expects her team to continue battling during the second half of conference play.
"We’ve come together as a team and really become focused on finishing the Ivy season strong," Clark said.
As the team hits the road this weekend, Saturday’s tough loss will be in the back of the players’ minds, but the squad can look back to last year in its search for motivation. On its last road trip through Providence, R.I., and New Haven, Conn., Harvard lost both games.
But at the same time, Coach Kathy Delaney-Smith wants her athletes to see the upcoming matches as a new beginning.
"It is the start of the second round, and anything can happen," Delaney-Smith said. "The players have had a great week of practice. We’re ready for both games, and we’re staying tough and staying competitive."