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A dream come true.
That is what took place last night at Briggs Cage, as Jody Fink's layup with five seconds remaining gave the Harvard women's basketball team a 65-64 win over Dartmouth. The Crimson's win over Dartmouth, which previously had been undefeated in the Ivies, tied it with Brown for second place in the Ivy League.
"It was a dream come true," Fink said. "It is the best way I can imagine to end it. They wanted to go undefeated in the Ivies and we ruined it for them."
Dartmouth took control early, leading the Crimson, 13-6, six minutes into the game. Dartmouth's pressure defense forced Harvard (14-12 overall, 9-5 Ivy) to make several careless turnovers throughout the first half, while Nicole Hager led the Big Green (23-3, 13-1) in scoring with 12 points. Ten minutes into the half, Harvard trailed Dartmouth, 19-8.
With seven minutes left in the half, Dartmouth's swarming defense was seemingly too much for Harvard and Crimson Coach Kathy Delaney Smith called a timeout to calm her players down.
And whatever was said on the bench worked--Harvard closed the gap and came within three points of the Big Green. Much of this effort can be attributed to freshman Betsy Odita, who came off the bench to score four key points and snatch three defensive rebounds.
But Dartmouth's Sophia Neely answered Harvard's streak with a key three-pointer at the two minute mark and the Big Green rallied back to a six-point lead at halftime.
Junior Beth Wambach came alive for the Crimson in the second half, including a key three-pointer two minutes into the half.
Harvard's aggressiveness took Dartmouth by surprise and forced the Big Green, leading, 41-36, to take a timeout early in the half. But this did not dampen the Crimson's spirit, as Harvard managed to gradually pull even.
With four minutes left in the game, Harvard junior Jen Mazanec hit a baseline jumper to tie the game, 58-58. Odita then sank a free throw to put the Crimson ahead for the first time.
It was a basket-for-basket game the rest of the way.
With 90 seconds left in the game, Requel Gibson hit a jump shot to put Dartmouth ahead, 62-61, but the Crimson's Erin Maher canned two free throws with 47 seconds showing on the clock to put her team back in front.
Finally, Allison Greene hit a turnaround jumper with 23 seconds left to put Dartmouth up and set up Fink's last hurrah.
"It was poetic justice," Smith said, "that the senior should score the winning basket."
Dartmouth dominated Harvard throughout the first half, but that never caused Harvard to doubt itself.
"We were in a no-lose situation," sophomore Healey said, "we wanted to do well in this game."
When asked about her great assist to Fink for the winning basket, Healey stated, "She was open, so I fed her the pass and just prayed--get it in Jod, just get it in!"
While the Harvard squad enjoyed its victory, Dartmouth Coach Jacqueline Hullah insisted that this game really didn't mean much: "Not to take anything away from Harvard, but the girls just were not up emotionally for this game."
Regardless, Coach Smith and her players both that this was a great note on which to end the season and it gives all the players great expectations for next year.
Gibson, a sophomore center, hails from that basketball haven, Romeoville, Ill.
Crimson, 65-64 at Briggs Cage Dartmouth 31-33--64 HARVARD 25-40--65
DARTMOUTH (64): Patty Webb 2-8 2-4 6; Nicole Hager 8-18 0-2 16; Allison Greene 6-15 0-0 12; Sophia Neeley 9-18 2-2 21; Ute Bowman 0-2 0-0 0; Tara Burke 0-0 0-0 0; Renee Reed 0-1 0-0 0; Kelly Begg 1-2 0-0 2; Raquel Gibson 1-4 1-1 3; Jen Lowry 2-3 0-0 4.
Totals: 27-71 5-9 64
HARVARD (65): Dina Hadrick 3-8 2-2 8; Jen Mazanec 7-9 1-1 15; Jody Fink 4-10 0-0 8; Maura Healey 2-7 2-2 7; Beth Wambach 5-9 0-1 12; Heather Harris 0-0 0-0 0; Sandy Springer 0-3 0-0 0; Erin Maher 1-4 2-2 4; Betsy Odita 3-5 4-6 10; Debbie Flandermeyer 0-4 1-3 1.
Totals: 25-59 12-17 65
Three-pointers: Neeley; Wambach 2, Healey. Fouled Out: None. Rebounds: Dartmouth 42 (Greene 11); Harvard 45 (Fink 10). Assists: Dartmouth 18 (Bowman 8); Harvard 17 (Hadrick, Mazanec, Wambach 4). Steals: Dartmouth 14 (Hagar 5); Harvard 9 (Wambach 3). Blocks: Dartmouth 8 (Webb 5); Harvard 0. Total Fouls: Dartmouth 19; Harvard 11. Turnovers: Dartmouth 13; Harvard 22.
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