Jacqueline Jones sank two free throws with one second remaining in yesterday's game to give UMass a come-from-behind, 49-48 victory over the Harvard women's basketball team. Erasing a 13-point second-half deficit, the Minutemen handed the winless Crimson its fourth straight loss at the IAB.
The hoopsters came out strong in the second half, dominating play and preventing the Minutemen from pressing an organized attack. Quickly they built their six-point half-time advantage into a 38-25 lead five minutes into the quarter.
But, as has happened in all of the previous outings this year, the Crimson could not maintain the momentum. The offensive attack--which had clicked so smoothly just minutes before--began to misfire. The drives to the basket, the slick passing, the sharp-shooting--both from the inside and out--disappeared. In its place, unsteady, indecisive offense began to emerge.
In its own zone, the Crimson began to fall back into the old pattern. Hobbled by their lack of height (the tallest girl on the roster is Freshman Wendy Joseph, officially listed at six feet, but probably closer to 5-ft. 10-in.), the hoopsters needed a strong defense to prevent the oppostion's big women from getting open inside for the easy shots. An inability to do that has marked Harvard's first three losses, most notably in the 94-38 Northwestern debacle last weekend.
For most of the first half, however, the squad was able to contain the Minutemen's 6-ft., 3-in. center Marsha Ready, holding her to a handful of points while building an early ten-point lead. But Harvard did not maintain pressure on the UMass frontline and the Minutemen crept back to within six at the half.
The pattern repeated itself when midway in the second half, the defense began to falter, and Ready, who led all scorers with 18 points, got open to shoot or pass off to teammate Gwen Jones, who tossed in 11 more.
And the Minutemen slowly chipped away at the Harvard lead. Midway through the half, the Crimson margin was cut to seven, 40-33. Freshman Lisa Leithasuer popped for four points, and classmate Andrea Mainelli and Frenessa Hall added two each, but the Minutemen continued to pick up ground, closing the gap to 48-43 with three minutes remaining.
In fast-paced action, Ready hit a pair of eight-footers sandwiched around a missed Harvard shot to cut the lead to one.
Then the Crimson stiffened, twice forcing turnovers without allowing the Minutemen to take a shot. But the Crimson missed after the first turnover, and Mainelli was intentionally fouled with 24 seconds left after the second. After she missed the free throw, UMass grabbed the rebound and came down court for one last chance, desperation rush.
In a scramble for a rebound with one second on the clock, Mainelli fouled Jones. Stepping to the line, Jones, a freshman, confidently netted the two free throws that put Harvard away.
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