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The Harvard women's basketball team won its own invitational tournament Saturday, besting William and Mary College in a tight final-round battle. That may not seem like a big deal to some, but to those who remembered last year's basement finish in the Turkey Tourney--and the 4-21 season record--it's cause for celebration.
"A lot of them have ban losing memories from last year," commented rookie Coach Kathy Delaney Smith following champagne toasts. "These victories mean a lot. A winning attitude goes a long way." The hoopsters now have a 2-1 record overall--halfway to last year's win total.
The Crimson relied on its bread-and-butter defense to beat a William and Mary squad which ran away from Bucknell in the opener, 83-43. The Indians responded with an equally aggressive defense, and the contest came down to a wire-close finish.
With seven seconds left on the clock and Harvard leading, 56-54. William and Mary had a chance to tie and possibly win the game. On a two-on-one fast break. Crimson guard Pat Home stopped one scoring attempt by blocking the ball. But another Indians picked it up to shoot, and Home had to foul her.
Janet Hanraha, later voted the tournament's Most Valuable Player, was at the stripe shooting two. But she choked on both to give Harvard the win and the tournament cup.
The Crimson hoopsters made it clear from the start that they were out to shake bad memories of the past. The defenders talked to each other and anticipated passes, rarely allowing William and Mary a good first shot. Then the Crimson crashed the boards and ran a controlled fast break that usually added two points to its tally. Harvard led, 13-4, after just four minutes of Play, when William and Mary had to call a time out.
The Indians came back on the attack, running a fast-paced game of their own, putting key Harvard players--shooting power Marget Long and defensive hustler Ann Scannell--on the bench with three fouls, then connecting on 61 percent of their foul shots. They took a 32-28 halftime lead.
When the second half began, the Crimson bench started chanting "defense," and slowly the play action swayed in Harvard's direction. A key running point came midway through the second stanza, when center Elaine Holpuch Blocked an Indian shot into the hands of freshman forward Lori Stewart, who started the break to Co-Captain Frenesa Hall. The stock senior guard promptly outmaneuvered three Indians under the hoop, and gave Harvard a 40-39 lead--an edge preserved until the final buzzer.
The Indians threatened to take control several times in the final period, pulling to within one point three times. "We let up on the boards a few times and let them back into the game," Smith said. "But our defense played really thought."
With a recently cut basket her around her neck, Smith exclaimed. "It felt good to beat a team that well-coached so early in the season."
The Crimson earned a berth in the finals of the second annual Harvard Invitational Tournament by topping the University of Chicago, 56-46, in the first round on Friday--but it did so mainly Because the Maroons played poorly.
The U of C Marcons hit only eight of their 30 free throw shots. On offense, the Crimson hoopsters repeatedly relaxed for two or three minutes after scoring. But the defense stayed though, frustrating the Maroons and forcing them to make bad passes.
Though the hoopsters turned the ball over 28 times, the same embarrassing number that surfaced after their 101-61 loss to Quinnipiac College last Tuesday, the squad actually played a much more solid game, outscoring the Maroons in both halves of play. Co-Captain Horne led all scorers with 18 points. The 5-ft., 5-in, guard also snagged seven rebounds.
THE NOTEBOOK: Home and Scannell made the tournament All-Start team, joining Bucknell's Jennifer Burke and William and Mary's Sandy DeSilvio, Cheryl Yarborough and MVP Hanrahan.
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