Despite a nine-point halftime lead, the Harvard women’s basketball team let Yale tie up the score twice in the second half before capturing the victory, 69-66, Saturday night at Lavietes Pavilion.
Bulldog sophomore Sarah Halejian proved a tough opponent as the guard led all scorers with 29 points. In their last meeting, Harvard (15-8, 6-3 Ivy) was able to hold Halejian to just 10 points in a 67-54 win on the road.
“I think it’s a lack of discipline on defense,” Crimson coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said of her team’s inability to contain Halejian. “Staying down on her fakes. She has a certain move—they know the scout. They didn’t play the scout when they played her.”
This time out, Halejian went 12-of-15 from the field and hit all four attempts from deep.
“She’s a good player,” junior Christine Clark said. “I think we could have done a better job containing her drive and keeping her in front of us. We just have to learn as a team not to let a player do that to us.”
The Crimson was paced by the guard pair of co-captain Victoria Lippert and Clark, who combined for 39 points. Lippert, who chipped in a season-high 24 points in Friday’s victory against Brown, recorded 12 of her 19 points during a second half in which the Bulldogs (10-14, 5-5) netted 40 points.
Clark achieved her first double-double of the season with 20 points and 13 boards, both team-highs.
“It feels great,” Clark said. “Even more than [my statistics] it’s so good to be able to sweep Yale. This again is my first year ever sweeping Yale. I love staying undefeated at home. It’s just really great to build off of this from now on.”
Clark and Lippert were instrumental in the battle towards the end of the second frame when Yale knotted the score twice, first at 47-all and again at 54-all.
Five shots from beyond the arc propelled the Bulldogs’ second half efforts. Yale opened the frame with an 8-0 run that brought it within four.
Clark nailed four shots from the line and Lippert proved effective in the paint, with seven points of her own during the closing five minutes to seal the win.
“I’ll just do whatever it takes to win, so I was really glad that we were able to pull it out tonight,” Lippert said.
The Crimson jumped out to a quick start in the first half. Sophomore forward Temi Fagbenle immediately grabbed a board off a missed jumper from classmate Ali Curtis and fed it back to the guard, who drilled a trey 21 seconds into the contest.
A jumper from Lippert and a pair of free throws by Fagbenle gave Harvard a 7-2 lead that it would never relinquish.
The Crimson squad extended its advantage to as many as 15 points with 2:32 on the clock in the opening stanza. Harvard remained aggressive on the glass, out-rebounding the Bulldogs as the team has done against almost every foe this season and converting 11 second-chance points in that opening half.