The Harvard’s women’s basketball team braved weather delays in New York to finish its regular season with two victories over Cornell and Columbia. The Crimson extended its winning streak to four games heading into the Ivy League Tournament, concluding its regular season with a season sweep of both opponents.
Harvard’s offense exploded in both games, paired with a defense that has enjoyed two straight weekends of strong play. The Crimson (18-9, 10-4 Ivy) completely dominated in its 91-57 victory over the Big Red (7-20, 3-11) and cruised to victory 78-59 the next day against the Lions (8-21, 2-12).
“I am proud that we took care of business in both games,” coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said.
Ending the season on a high note, Harvard has secured the number three seed in the conference tournament, and will face off against Penn in what will be a virtual home game for their opponent at the Palestra.
SHARING THE ROCK
In the weekend matches, the Crimson displayed one of its top qualities: a plethora of offensive weapons. There were nine double-digit performances by Harvard players across the two day span, including two from sophomore guard Katie Benzan, senior guard Taylor Rooks, and junior co-captain Madeline Raster.
“We want to share the ball and balance out our attack,” Delaney-Smith said.
Freshman forward Jadyn Bush stepped up for a big day against the Lions, scoring a career-high 21 points.
“Jadyn Bush had her best game this year,” Delaney-Smith said. “She was immense on both sides, on the defensive end and offensive end.”
Other Crimson players also rose to the occasion, with junior guard Nani Redford recording a career-high 12 points against the Big Red and sophomore forward Jeannie Boehm notching her fourth double-double of the year against Cornell with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Harvard recorded 38 assists on the weekend as a whole, distributing the ball proficiently among its many scorers.
“Sharing the ball makes playing so much more fun,” Benzan said. “And having so many threats inside and outside is just too hard to defend.”
DOMINANCE IN THE PAINT
Throughout the entire trip in New York, the Crimson completely controlled the inside game. Harvard outrebounded its conference rivals 86-60 over the course of the weekend.
“Rebounding is going to be very key next weekend because Penn and Princeton have two really good girls [down low],” Benzan said.
In addition, the Crimson offense flowed through its bigs. Harvard outscored Cornell and Columbia 48-28 and 40-29 in the paint, respectively. The Crimson was led by Boehm and Bush, who each had a turn in pushing forward the Harvard offense.
“I thought they really struggled defending our inside game,” Delaney-Smith said.
As Benzan noted, the Crimson continuing its dominance in the paint would serve it well transitioning into the conference tournament and playing against some of the conference’s toughest teams down low.
Following inclement weather, the original slate of Friday and Saturday was pushed back to Saturday and Sunday, meaning the Empire State games were the final contests for the Ancient Eight regular season across the conference.
“It was a bit of a tough one because they’re two hard, rough trips on the bus,” Benzan said. “We got snowed in at Ithaca.”
The New York trip is traditionally difficult for Harvard due to the distance, and adding an extra day on the road in which the Crimson was not allowed to practice only complicated the journey for Harvard.
Despite the weather, the Crimson showed no signs of letting the unconventional road trip slow it down. The Harvard offense obviously showed its offensive prowess, averaging 84.5 points over the weekend.
The Crimson defense continued its impressive stretch. In its current four-game winning streak, Harvard has not allowed more than 60 points in a single game. Strong defense paired with its explosive offense will prove important heading into postseason play in Philadelphia against the top teams of the Ivy League.
—Staff writer Joseph W. Minatel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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