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James Naismith invented basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891. The way the Springfield College women's basketball team played last night in the IAB, pasting Harvard 69-55, they looked as if they'd been right out there practicing with Jamie since that first historic game played between two peach baskets.
The Crimson suffered due to the sicknesses of Wendy Cole and Caryn Curry, who both played, and the absences of starting center Sue Aboucher, home for Christmas in California, and backup center Karen Spencer, out with bad knees. However, full credit must still be given to Springfield for a superb display of shooting, passing and tight defense.
After Harvard opened up its only lead of the game, 14-8, in the first eight minutes of the first half, Springfield tightened its zone defense and prevented the Crimson from getting the ball inside to center Leslie Greis.
While Harvard fumbled around 20 feet from the basket, missing frequently with perimeter shots, Springfield whipped off eight straight points to take the lead, 16-14, then slowly increased that margin to 34-26 at the half.
Guard Cheryl Murtaugh sparked the Springfield surge, pouring in 10 first-half points, primarily on 20-foot jumpers from near the top of the key. When Gia Johnson and Tamar Atinc came out to shut off Murtaugh's outside game, the versatile guard penetrated for layups or passed off to forward Mary Regan who totalled 20 points overall and ten in the last nine minutes of the first half.
Springfield's 40-per-cent shooting average and Harvard's less than-comparable 29-per-cent average made it impossible for the Crimson to slice far into the Springfield lead in the second half. After Harvard came back to within seven at 37-44, Springfield decided the issue with a 12-4 spurt keyed by two Regan baskets and two buckets from center Barb Breedlove, who finished with 10 points.
Despite the disappointing loss there was at least one bright spot for Harvard. Guard Tamar Atinc shot four-for-nine as she came off the bench to spark the lagging Crimson offense with outside buckets in the second half.
With superior depth, height, a better shooting touch and quicker passing, Springfield won this game going away from the depleted Crimson. James Naismith will rest easy in his grave as he savors this victory of his hometown companions.
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