Women's Basketball Opens Ivy Play with Big Win

The Harvard women's basketball team earned its sixth straight win against Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon at Lavietes Pavilion. A combined 41 points from junior Christine Clark and senior Victoria Lippert powered their team over the Big Green (2-13, 0-1 Ivy), 88-66. The Crimson (10-5, 1-0 Ivy) led by as much as 31 points in the victory.

“The game itself I thought was really great,” sophomore guard Ali Curtis said. “We came out strong and I thought we fought the whole time. Dartmouth always gives us a good run for our money during Ivy League conference play.”

Clark recorded a game-high 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and was a perfect five-for-five from the charity stripe. Lippert contributed 19 and hit all three of her free throw attempts. She sits atop the Ivy League in free throw percentage at 89.2 percent.

The third double-digit scorer for Harvard was freshman guard Shilpa Tummala, who put up 10 points in her Ancient Eight debut, a career-high. The 5'11” rookie entered the game late in the first half and played for just eight minutes total, but shot 4-of-4 from the field, including two three-pointers.

“It was nice to finally start clicking for myself on the court,” Tummala said. “It made me feel a little more confident. My teammates definitely have helped with that and are always pushing me in practice and helping me stick through it.... It felt good to be able to help contribute to the team in whatever way I could.”

Tummala, who was two-time captain at St. Mary's High School which was ranked No. 1 by ESPN, scored her first career basket Jan. 2 against Massachusetts.

“Shilpa is a great player,” Curtis said. “Coming in she had great stats. She had a good following through high school. We knew she was going to be an integral part of our team and coming off the bench last night she was feeling good, feeling confident. She didn't even look at the basket when she shot—it just always seemed to go in and it was great for her.”

In addition to Clark and Lippert's performances, it was a strong day for the bench, which contributed 37 points total. Junior guard Jasmine Evans notched eight points while junior center Elise Gordon and senior guard Elle Hagedorn each chipped in six. Hagedorn handed out a team-high four assists, while Curtis added three.

“That in itself shows just how deep our team is, how much everyone wants to win and how important this conference title is to us,” Curtis said. “It was awesome to see everyone get out there, really have fun, and play the game that we love.”

For Dartmouth, its sole senior, guard Faziah Steen, was the dominant shooter of the day. Playing for 34 minutes, she tallied a team-high 18 points and provided defensive pressure, recording a game-high five steals. Steen was followed by freshman Lakin Roland who put up 13 points, and sophomore Tia Dawson, with 10. Dawson was aggressive on the glass, pulling down a game-high nine rebounds.

While Steen drilled an early jumper, it was a pair of Harvard seniors, Lippert and Crimson co-captain Miriam Rutzen, who led the home team on a 13-2 run in the first five-and-a-half minutes of play to bring Harvard out to an early lead it would never relinquish. The team would head into the locker room 16 points on top of its opponents. While hot shooting by Steen and Roland would cut the lead to 11 at its smallest halfway through the second frame, the Crimson went on a 12-0 run to widen the gap and eventually seal the win.

The Crimson hit a total of 10 treys and was able to keep the turnovers down to just nine, below its season average of 17.4 per game. The squad out-rebounded the Big Green, 42-32, with Clark, Lippert and Rutzen each grabbing seven boards. The win is Harvard’s third straight and improved the team to 5-0 at home.

“I think it's just a great start to the Ivy League and sends a message to rest of our team that we're able to take on the conference and do the best we possibly can,” Curtis said.

--Staff writer Cordelia Mendez can be reached at cordeliamendez@college.harvard.edu.

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