"Oh God, I'm so happy," Harvard Coach Kathy Delaney Smith exclaimed after the game. "I just knew we could do it tonight."
The Crimson hoopsters played like they knew, too, that they could break their five game losing streak. And they did it last night at Briggs Cage, with a 69-62 victory over Springfield College. The Crimson record jumped to 3-6 with the win
For the first time this year, they took a first-half lead and kept it, instead of consistently turning the ball over to the other team. In previous contests, the hoopsters took early leads, only to forget how to score for several minutes, and would trail the rest of the game. Last night against the Indians, even when threatened with a possible comeback, Harvard held on.
Crimson bench strength provided fresh energy at key points in the game to lead the Harvard attack. With 2:05 left in the first hall of play. Springfield started its defensive press. The Crimson promptly turned the ball over, and the visitors ran a two-on-one fast break that left Ann Scannell on the losing end, making the score 26-25, Springfield On three trips down the floor on offense, the Crimson couldn't hit a shot, or just passed the ball to the wrong team
But less than a minute later, Wendy Joseph, subbing at center for Elaine Holpuch, blocked a Springfield shot, pinning it on the boards. Freshman guard Chris Lahey followed her teammate's lead, and put a rebound through the hoop. Co-Captain Frenesa Hall came off the bench to snag several rebounds, and drove down the court to score, unassisted against three Indians.
Co-Captain Pat Home sank a 15-foot jump shot on a quick drive to the bucket to give the Crimson a 31-26 halftime lead.
After that, the Crimson hoopsters never looked back. Lisa Liethauser, in her first start of the season, worked the baseline, pivoting after receiving passes, and shooting with deadly aim. Joseph seemed to be working with a radar system, cutting up to high post, catching a pass just when the defense would move in the opposite direction. Forward Cindy Clapp put in the same steller performance that has made her the team's second leading scorer behind Scannell so far.
Delaney Smith also cited the freshmen players who came into the game to hit crucial shots and add rebounding power. "Lori Stewart, Chris Lahey and Anna Collins--I was particularly pleased with how they held up under pressure from the Springfield team, when they tried to come back in the last few minutes." Delaney Smith said. "Chris did an excellent job stopping their key shooter who killed us in the first half."
Springfield's Jen Crawford was the player Delaney Smith referred to. She scored 12 in the first half, and only six in the second. The Crimson got more trouble from Sharon Playdon, who scored 15 points before fouling out with five minutes left in the game.
THE NOTEBOOK: Coach Delaney Smith cited Springfield's Donna Losardo as a solid guard who might have been a little nervous in front of her old Westwood coach...Val Jordan is now sporting crutches, and the Crimson hopes she'll be back for the Dartmouth rematch after Christmas break.