With a little more than five minutes left in the game and a lead of four points, it looked as if Harvard women’s basketball would pull out its second WNIT upset in as many games. But in the final 4:48, Temple outscored the Crimson, 12-5, and ultimately took the game, 64-59, Saturday night at McGonigle Hall in Philadelphia, Pa.
Adhering to a season-long pattern, Harvard (18-12, 10-4 Ivy) was faced with an early deficit from which it had to battle back. This problem had plagued the team throughout Ivy play and resulted in a good number of the team’s in-conference losses, notably to both Brown and Yale.
Despite the loss, the team considered the game to be a great effort against such a strong, highly touted opponent.
“I’m very, very proud of them,” Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “I wish they could have been rewarded with a win. I thought we were mismatched height- and speed-wise but I thought we outplayed them. I just couldn’t be prouder of everyone. That kind of effort should have been rewarded with a win.”
For the game, the Crimson was out-rebounded, 45-33. Junior Victoria Lippert felt that her team’s defeat could be attributed to the amount of Owls’ 19-10 edge in offensive rebounds.
“I think towards the end they got a couple too many second chances,” Lippert said. “[Owls forward Brittany Lewis] got a few too many offensive rebounds, too many put-backs. We just weren’t able to get over the hump.”
The initial comeback for the Crimson came directly after its biggest deficit of the game. With 7:06 remaining in the first period, the Owls (23-9, 13-1 Atlantic 10) stretched their lead to a game-high 11—but shortly before halftime the advantage was cut down to five.
The instigator of this run? None other than co-captain Brogan Berry, who led her team with 21 points, shooting three of five from beyond the arc and 7 of 14 overall. Berry checked back into the game at the 5:15 mark and quickly scored a basket, hit a free throw, and notched a steal to get her team back into the game.
But Temple did not back down and ended the half on a run of its own, ultimately taking the lead back up to 10 and setting the half time score at 39-29.
A 7-0 Harvard run at the start of the second half cut the deficit to three—the closest the game had been since a Berry basket with 12:56 left in the first period.
After the teams traded shots from the charity stripe for the next few minutes, junior Emma Golen hit a shot from deep to give Harvard its first lead of the game, 49-48. And, thanks to three jumpers from Golen, Berry, and sophomore Milly Mullins, the lead soon expanded to four, 56-52.
“We were excited,” Lippert said regarding her team’s mentality during its late-game run. “I think all of us were on the same page knowing that we were still in the game even with a little bit of a deficit. We knew that when you get down a little bit, it’s all about getting defensive stops. I think from top to bottom, everyone was really into the game.”
But thanks to six free throws and three layups from the Owls in the final minutes of the half, the Crimson found itself on the wrong side of the scoreboard when the game went final.
For Harvard, at the night’s end, the attention returned to the seniors, Berry and co-captain Lindsay Louie, who had just witnessed their last collegiate game.
Berry, thanks to Saturday night’s performance, finished her career with the second most assists all-time for the Crimson and fourth most in the history of the Ivy League with 525. Additionally, her 1,458 points are good for sixth best in the Harvard record books and 26th in the league.