Women’s Basketball Glides Past Columbia
The Harvard women’s basketball team edged another step closer to the WNIT on Friday night, taking down Columbia at Levien Gym.
The 61-44 win was the fifth straight for the Crimson (19-8, 10-3 Ivy), which hasn’t dropped a game on its New York road trip since 2008 and has won seven consecutive games against the Lions.
“I thought we really took it upon ourselves to come out, not worrying about who we were playing or what was on the line, and just play our basketball,” sophomore guard Ali Curtis said. “We did a really good job of doing that.”
Lions senior forward Tyler Simpson put up 19 points but was unable to stop the Harvard squad, which outrebounded Columbia (4-22, 2-10) 46 to 31. The rebound total was the Crimson’s highest since the team brought down 50 rebounds in a win against Yale on Feb. 1. Simpson was the only player from her team to register more than eight points.
“Believe it or not, I was not unhappy with our defense,” Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “[Simpson is] just a worker, so she got a lot of behind the scenes jobs. I would say for the most part, until the end of the game, I was pretty happy with shutting her down well enough.”
Sophomore forward Temi Fagbenle nabbed her sixth double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
“I thought she had a great weekend,” Delaney-Smith said. “Everybody keys in on her, and she wasn’t used to that coming out of the Olympics. The heat gets turned up on the double-teams and triple-teams in conference play…. We’ve had to find creative ways to get her the ball.”
Senior Victoria Lippert paced the team with 15 points. The guard totaled 53 points during a four-game homestand in which Harvard took down ivy foes Brown, Yale, Penn, and Princeton.
“She has played like a senior,” Delaney-Smith said. “She has played like a champion. She wants the ball in her hands when the game is on the line.”
The Crimson also saw offensive action from the bench, as five players combined to contribute 20 points.
“As the Ivy League season has been going along, a lot of people coming off the bench have contributed in many ways,” Curtis said. “I think having people come off the bench who are really able to play their role and contribute defensively and offensively has been key to our success.”
Harvard shooters found their stride early on in the contest. A jumper from Lippert gave the Crimson a 5-3 edge after two and a half minutes of play. From there, Harvard never released its grip on the lead.
The first half saw the Crimson hold the Lions to just 25 percent shooting from the field. Simpson shot 3-for-10 while only two of her teammates, guards Taylor Ward and Miwa Tachibana, made any field goals.
Harvard denied Columbia many second looks, with Fagbenle claiming five of her team’s 17 defensive boards through the frame.
The team finished the period on a high, with a layup from junior guard Christine Clark and a bucket from Fagbenle stretching the Crimson’s lead to 11, 30-19. Clark, who went 12-for-12 at the charity stripe at Columbia last year, was held to just five points through her 36 minutes of play.