Before Saturday night's contest against Princeton, junior guard Erin Maher predicated that it would be "the best game of the year."
She was right.
Behind clutch shooting and defense, the Harvard women's basketball team dramatically defeated an inspired Princeton, 85-83, in overtime at Briggs Cage.
"I hope they're not all that close," junior center Debbie Flandermeyer said. "I'll have a heart attack."
"It was a great game," Princeton Coach Joan Kowalik said. "It was the kind of game you wish both teams could win."
With the win Harvard (10-11 overall, 7-2 Ivy) extended its winning streak to five, and maintained sole possession of second place in the Ivy League behind first-place Brown, which swept its games this weekend.
The Crimson fought tooth and nail through the contest.
At the end of the first half, the Tigers (10-12, 5-5) held a 33-29 advantage courtesy of swarming man-to man defense.
But Harvard opened the second frame with a lay-up from Flandermeyer, and a trey from Maher to take a slim 34-33 lead, After that, the two teams traded baskets evenly, tying the score 13 times in the second half.
At 8:25, down 56-54, Harvard found the spark it needed Following a jumper by freshman Nikole Cronk, Maher stole the inbounds pass and laid it in.
The Crimson then rattled off five unanswered points, to seize a 63-56 advantage.
The Tigers, however, would not die. Spurred by three-pointers down the stretch by sophomore guards Laura Leacy and Robyn Algeria, Princeton tied the game 73-73 with 34 seconds remaining. Two freethrows by Maher put Harvard ahead with 13 seconds left.
But as time ran out, Princeton pulled off a miracle. Forward Tina Smith took a pass from Leacy and sank a turnaround hook at the buzzer, knotting the game 75-75 at the end of regulation.
"I was proud of how hard we played. We came from seven points down with four minutes left. It was a great team effort," Kowalik said.
Princeton's comeback put a scare into the a Crimson.
"When we went into overtime, the younger players were kind of worried," Maher said. "But as long as I've been here, we've never lost an overtime game."
Harvard still hasn't. Freshman Tammy Butler hit the game wining basket in the extra period, and Harvard staved off the Tigers' to secure the win.