An impressive 23-2 first quarter run propelled Harvard women’s basketball past La Salle an onto a 70-61 win at Lavietes Pavilion Wednesday afternoon.
The Crimson’s first quarter run, anchored by 10 points from junior guard Madeline Raster, provided Harvard (8-6, 0-1 Ivy) with momentum and a lead it would never relinquish.
“We had a ton of energy off the bench,” said sophomore forward Jeannie Boehm, of the first quarter performance. “We were able to create a lot of offense from our defense. We read passing lanes very well, got a bunch of steals, and transitioned well on offense.”
Wednesday’s tilt against the Explorers (5-11, 0-3 Atlantic 10), was the final non-conference game of the season, affording the Crimson an opportunity to improve on the issues that contributed to a 63-56 conference opening loss to Dartmouth.
La Salle entered Wednesday’s matchup on a skid, having lost four straight contests and six of its past seven games by double digits. However, the Explorers recorded an impressive seven-point win over two-time defending Ivy League Champions, Penn, earlier in the season, demonstrating their potential to be a dangerous team.
Plagued by poor shooting and turnover-prone basketball in Hanover, Harvard showed few of the same symptoms against La Salle, winning the turnover battle and shooting a season-high 55 percent from the field. The Crimson also shot 37 percent from beyond the arc, seven percentage points above its season average.
Reducing turnovers was key to Harvard’s success on Wednesday afternoon, a theme which has remained consistent throughout the season. Although the team finished with 17 turnovers, only five came in the first half, when the Crimson was able to build its lead.
“We worked a lot on limiting turnovers this week in practice,” Boehm said. “I think we did a little bit of a better job this game, but if we want to beat Dartmouth we have to continue to improve on that.”
Harvard featured a balanced attack against the Explorers, with four players scoring in double digits. Boehm and junior guard Sydney Skinner led the way, combining to score 35 of the Crimson’s 70 points.
“We shared the ball, we took great shots, we played tough defense. I thought we were doing some great stuff,” coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “For the most part, I thought we played very well.”
Boehm shot an impressive 9-for-11 from the field—her most efficient performance of the season—stuffing the stat sheet with six rebounds, three steals, and three blocks.
Wednesday’s performance against La Salle was much needed for the sophomore forward, after a frustrating game at Dartmouth in which she scored eight points in just 21 minutes due to foul trouble.
“I tried this game not to get dumb, early fouls, especially with their post play,” Boehm said. “To go out [and play 36 minutes] was definitely positive for me.”
After falling behind 23-10 at the end of the first quarter, the Explorers were able to string together several runs, cutting the deficit to single digits on multiple occasions.
However, La Salle was ultimately unable to climb back to level footing, due to careless ball handling and converting just 1-of-13 from three point range. The Explorers committed 20 turnovers and struggled to chase the hosts all afternoon, never leading after 6-4.