The Harvard women’s basketball team dropped Saturday’s Ivy League season-opener to Dartmouth by a 63-56 mark at Leede Arena in a frustrating game that forced the Crimson to chase the hosts all evening.
Although Harvard (7-6, 0-1 Ivy) narrowed the deficit to 51-46 in the fourth quarter, eight unanswered points by the Big Green (9-5, 1-0), six of which came from junior guard Cy Lippold, put to rest any hopes of a late comeback for the Crimson.
Harvard entered Saturday’s road contest riding a two-game win streak with history on the team’s side. The Crimson beat Dartmouth in both contests last season, and since 2010, was 12-3 against the Big Green.
Saturday told a different story, with Dartmouth leading for almost the entirety of the game. After taking a 9-8 first-quarter lead, the Big Green never trailed. Harvard didn’t help its own cause, either—the Crimson was plagued by poor shooting and careless ball-handling, committing 21 turnovers, tying its season-high.
Turnovers proved to be a familiar and costly issue for Harvard. Earlier in non-conference play, the Crimson committed 20 turnovers in each of losses to Florida Gulf Coast and Virginia.
“We’ve been trying to control the turnovers,” Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “But when we play tight, we go too fast…close to half of their points came from our turnovers.”
The Crimson fell behind in the first quarter and struggled mightily in a second quarter that saw Dartmouth extend its lead, outscoring the visitors by a 17-9 tally.
Further compounding Harvard’s problems was early foul trouble for starting sophomore forward Jeannie Boehm. The second-year was whistled for two fouls in the first three minutes of the game, forcing her to sit out most of the first half.
While Harvard dominated the glass early and often, snaring 21 offensive rebounds, the team was ice cold from the field, shooting a mere 27 percent and converting just 1-11 three-point attempts entering halftime.
“Nothing was falling for us,” Delaney-Smith said. “Then we started to take bad shots, and we started to rush. Instead of reacting with more poise and toughness, we didn’t, we were frenetic.”
The twelve-point halftime deficit proved to be insurmountable, despite a heroic effort from senior guard Taylor Rooks, who delivered a career-high 23-point, 11-rebound, double-double for the Crimson.
Rooks, the game’s leading scorer, was the only Harvard player to score more than 10 points on an evening when the Crimson shot under 20 percent from three-point territory, and converted just 50 percent of its free-throws. The Warren, N.J., native converted nine of her 19 field goals and played for all but two of the game’s minutes.
“Taylor was very consistent, she was very poised, I didn’t even get to rest her,” Delaney-Smith explained. “I thought she played a really good game, but it’s never about just one person.”
Lippold led Dartmouth with 19 points and four steals, providing steady guard play while converting on all four of her free throw opportunities. The East Stroudsburg, Penn., native shot an impressive three of four from beyond the arc and was instrumental in helping the hosts weather Harvard’s late surge.
The Crimson had more success from the field in the second half, but ultimately fell short, finishing the game at 35 percent on field goals and 6-31 from three-point territory.
“Tonight, we just all happened to be cold,” sophomore guard Katie Benzan said. “We just have to move on and think about the next game and get back to work.”
Saturday’s loss dropped the Crimson to 1-5 in true road games, a trend the team will have to fix if it hopes to qualify for the Ivy League tournament in March.
Although a mid-week tilt with out of conference La Salle looms on Wednesday, Harvard will also be looking forward to its next Ivy League matchup. That game will come in the form of a rematch against the Big Green, a chance to avenge Saturday’s defeat, at Lavietes Pavilion on the 20th.
“We’re very frustrated, angry, and disappointed about how we played tonight,” Benzan said. “We all want it to be January 20th, playing Dartmouth again. We’re so hungry for a win, and to prove that tonight was a fluke, and that how we played isn’t who we are.”
—Staff writer Amir A.M. Mamdani can be reached at email@example.com.
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