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Hope remains alive.
The Harvard women's basketball team needed a win last night to remain in the Ivy League race, and it got just that with a 57-56 squeaker over Yale in the unfriendly confines of the Payne Whitney Gym in New Haven. The Crimson (7-8 overall, 2-2 Ivy) battled hard against the tough pressure defense of the Elis (7-10 overall, 3-2 Ivy) to come away with the critical upset victory.
"I think this win will shock a lot of people around the league," Coach Kathy Delaney Smith said. "We're getting better and better with each game."
Harvard struggled from the field, hitting only 38 percent of its shots, and was also outrebounded, 49-42. But Harvard managed to overcome what has failed it all season long--turnovers. The Crimson lost the ball only 15 times in its most physical game of the season and combined its smooth ballhandling with clutch shots in the stretch to chalk up the win.
"I'm very proud that we had only 15 turnovers against such a tough defense," Delaney Smith said. "I think we proved to ourselves that we can play against a pressure defense and not commit turnovers."
Harvard played a strong first half and entered the locker room with a 31-28 lead. However, the Crimson couldn't find the hoop early in the second half, falling behind by 11 points with under 10 minutes remaining.
But Harvard managed to chip away at the Yale lead, tying the game with just under two minutes left on the clock. Sophomore guard Maura Healy's three-point attempt to put the Crimson up missed and Yale forward Paula Kenefick countered with her own three-pointer to give her squad the lead, 56-53.
Those were the last points Yale would score.
Junior guard Dina Hadrick and freshman center Debbie Flandermeyer each hit baskets to put Harvard ahead for good. The Elis failed to score on their next possession and fouled Jen Mazanec. The junior forward missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Yale could not convert on a last-ditch effort to steal the win.
"It was a very poor shooting night for us," Delaney Smith said. "We got good shots, but they wouldn't fall. We just gradually chipped away at Yale's lead. I think you have to be very poised to play the way we did tonight."
Junior guard Beth Wambach bounced back from a sub-par shooting game against New Hampshire Monday night to pump in a team-high 17 points. Mazanec added 10 points and played ferocious defense, swatting away five shots. Flandermeyer contributed another outstanding game in the paint, scoring 15 points and rejecting two shots.
"Debbie Flandermeyer was absolutely, positively awesome," Delaney Smith said.
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