With 11 seconds left in the game and the Harvard women’s basketball team down three points, junior Emma Golen grabbed the rebound and quickly pushed the ball up the court. After scanning the open floor, she pulled up behind the three-point line and let a shot fly.
But the shot, like many others for the Crimson on Friday night, did not fall, and Golen’s team lost to Brown, 58-55, at the Pizzitola Memorial Sports Center.
It was not all bad for Harvard (12-10, 5-3 Ivy), though, as it fought back late to erase a 14-point second-half deficit. The comeback began at the 13:49 mark with junior Victoria Lippert’s three-pointer and lasted until there were 45 seconds left in the game, at which point the Bears (15-8, 6-3) finally managed to capitalize on a Crimson turnover and did not let up the rest of the way.
“They came out ready to go,” Golen said. “They hit a lot of threes that helped them jump out to a big lead that carried over to the second half. We were able to battle ourselves back and make it into a game, but it was just a little too late to be able to pull out the win.”
As was true in the last minute, turnovers proved to be detrimental for Harvard throughout the game. It tallied 20 on the night, the most it has suffered against any Ivy team all year and more than three over its season average. Brown did its most to capitalize off of the giveaways, pushing the ball and scoring 19 points off of the Crimson mistakes.
“Turnovers were huge for us [Friday] night,” Golen said. “I think we were trying to make a lot of quick decisions, quick passes that came back to bite us. They had [19 points off turnovers], so if you want to look at it straight up, that could be the game right there.”
The first half was one of runs between the two teams, but those of the Bears were more numerous and more lengthy than those of Harvard. A little less than half way into the first period, the Crimson took what proved to be its biggest lead of the game when an 8-0 run gave it a 17-11 lead. The remaining 10 minutes of the half were all Brown, and Harvard went into the break trailing, 31-25.
The Bears continued to have success at the start of the second period, as they extended their lead to 14, a game high. At that point, though, the Crimson found Lippert, who did what she does best: hit threes. Lippert nailed her 44th three-point shot of the season, good for third best in the Ivy League. With that basket, momentum appeared to switch to the Crimson.
“We were pushing the ball and started connecting better on offense,” Golen said. “That led us to get those good looks that we should have gotten pretty much the whole game.”
After a quick Bears layup, sophomore Christine Clark was sent to the line and sank two free throws. The next couple of minutes featured each side swapping baskets until freshman Erin McDonnell sunk her second three-pointer of Ivy play with just under five minutes remaining in the game.
“I just relaxed and let the game come to me.… It all became instinctive,” McDonnell said. “I was confident when I went in and knew that I could play with anyone on the floor. I like feeling the pressure.”
With 1:50 to play, the Crimson cut its deficit to five when Golen hit yet another shot from deep. This was followed by a layup from Clark and a free throw by Lippert. But that was as close as Harvard would get, as a missed free throw and a turnover put the ball back in the hands of Brown with 12 seconds left to play. The only thing left for Harvard to do was foul, and it did just that. The Bears made one of two free throws, extending their lead to three, but missed jumpers by Lippert and co-captain Brogan Berry sealed the Brown victory.
Clark led all scorers with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, an improvement over last weekend’s 7-for-26 performance.
Despite falling three games behind Princeton in the loss column with the defeat, the Crimson was not turning its back on the possibility of still going for the title.
“We’re looking at it like we’re still in the race,” Golen said. “We’re looking for some revenge in the second half of the season. It is definitely not over.”
McDonnell echoed her teammate’s thoughts, emphasizing redemption as a key factor in the coming games.
“We can still prove ourselves and show everyone else,” McDonnell said. “If we can buckle down and not let any play pass us by, we’re going to prove that we should’ve beaten these teams the first time. We know we can do it.”
—Staff writer Juliet Spies-Gans can be reached at email@example.com.