The Harvard women's basketball team got back on the winning track last night by knocking off Columbia University, 61-57, before more than 200 fans at Levien Gym in New York.
It marked the third road victory of the year for a Crimson squad that had previously gone more than two seasons without capturing a single contest outside of Cambridge.
The cagers, coming off a 19-point loss to Lehigh in last weekend's Harvard Invitational Tournament final, were paced by sophomore point guard Barbara Ann Keffer, who scored 14 points, pulled down five rebounds, dished out four assists and made one steal.
Harvard (5-3 overall, 1-1 Ivy) led almost the whole way, but the hosts never fell behind by more than a half-dozen points.
With less than a minute remaining, the Lions--who will not join officially the Ivy League until next year--cut the deficit to two, 57-55.
After an unsuccessful offensive trip down the floor, the hosts fouled sophomore center Nancy Cibotti (eight points, four rebounds) with 28 seconds on the clock.
Cibotti, who going into last night's contest was the leading Crimson free throw shooter (5-for-5), stepped up to the charity stripe and smoothly dropped in both ends of the critical one-and-one to put Harvard back up by four.
Two more Crimson free throws, these by Keffer off of an intentional foul, gave the cagers a six-point lead and secured the victory.
Columbia connected on a 30-ft. buzzer-beater to make the final score 61-57.
"It was a very well-played game and a very well-officiated game," Crimson Coach Kathy Delaney Smith said. "We still have to cut down on our number of turnovers [27 last night] but otherwise I was very pleased."
Senior forward Anna Collins played her most effective game in over a week, scoring 10 points and grabbing a game-high 6 rebounds.
Sharon Hayes also chipped in 10 points, but for the first time in four games was not the Crimson's leading scorer. On the season, Hayes is leading the cagers with an 11.6 points per game average. She is also the only hoopster connecting on more than half of her field goal attempts--shooting at a 53 percent clip.
Junior Co-Captain Trisha Brown (eight points, three assists, two steals) and freshman center Sarah Duncan (six points, five rebounds, two blocks, two steals) also had solid games for the Crimson, which shot over 50 percent from the floor for only the second time this season.
Harvard, who held a 23-22 half-time edge, is averaging only 38 percent from the floor on the year and 69 percent from the foul line.
THE NOTEBOOK: The Crimson out-rebounded the Lions 27-23 and own a 37-35 rebounds-per-game average over its opponents on the year--Collins leads the team with 6.4 r.p.g... Keffer leads the team in assists (2.7 per game) and steals (15)... Harvard is averaging 62 points and 24 turnovers per game... The cagers--who were also 5-3 after the first eight games last season--next see action tomorrow night at Springfield College and then return home Saturday evening to face the University of Vermont.