BOSTON--Finally: Showtime, Crimson style.
Rebounding from a poor start to the season, the Harvard women's basketball team runned-'n'-gunned to a 83-67 win over Boston University in front of a near capacity crowd at the Walter Brown Arena.
After struggling with a newly installed running offense and full-court press in their first five games, the Crimson (2-4, 0-0 Ivy) overcame a lackluster start to thrash the Lady Terriers (1-4).
Needing a win over a weak BU team to restore its confidence, Harvard still stumbled out of the gate. BU, which also uses a full-court press, took advantage of the Crimson's lethargy, jumping out to an early 11-point lead.
The lead was still 11 with 4:45 to go in the half, and star junior forward Tammy Butler, who averaged 19.4 points and 13.4 rebounds coming into the game, had only tallied two points up to this juncture.
"We were just standing around," said Harvard Coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. "Unfortunately, this was a classic mid-week [start] from Harvard students burdened with a lot of work."
But the Crimson quickly put academics out of its mind. Holding the Lady Terriers to two points in the final 4:45 of the first half, a three-pointer by sophomore Elizabeth (Buzz) Proudfit (a team-high 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting, four rebounds) capped a 10-2 run and allowed Harvard to go into the half down by only three, 40-37.
Then the comparisons to the classic mid-80's Laker teams began.
After both teams scored five points to begin the second half, Harvard finally started to show why it was picked to contend for the Ivy title. After a power move by Butler (who had a dominating 13-point, eight-rebound second half to finish with 16 and 11) brought the Crimson to within one, senior co-captain Cara Frey (14 points, four assists) magically used the hardwood on a 30 foot bounce pass that freed a streaking Proudfit for a layup.
Silencing the boisterous crowd, Butler followed another inside move with a steal that created another fast-break and another Proudfit layup. Tightening the choke-hold, Frey hit a trey, Sophomore guard Amy Reinhard (seven points, four rebounds) hit a pull-up, and Frey ended the 15-0 run with a steal and layup.
Harvard had turned a 45-42 deficit into a 57-42 lead in under four minutes. Fan-tastic.
"We came out intense in the second half," freshman guard Jessica Gelman said in a understatement.
The Crimson steadily increased its lead from then on, and the margin was only 16 because of sloppy play in the last two minutes (the Crimson scored only six points in the last 4:23). Co-captain Katie Phillips, playing only her second game of the season after a knee injury, showed a sweet outside shooting touch in scoring eight points. In addition, her presence stabilized the young Crimson team.
"Katie Phillips has been our missing ingredient," Delaney Smith said.
Harvard also showed its most balanced attack of the year, and after coming into the game shooting a miserable 36.4 percent, sank a season high 50.8 (33-65) percent of its shots.
Gelman was another key to the game. The freshman followed her career-high 11 point effort against Rhode Island with an eight point, two steal game in 21 minutes.
"Jessica's just getting better and better," Delaney Smith said.
Fighting the insecurities that come with inexperience and a new system, the Crimson hopes that this win will yet lead it on the winning path it has become so accustomed to.
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