Things got down and dirty last night at Briggs Cage as the Harvard women's basketball team swept up the court with Cornell, 84-71.
The win brings the Crimson up to 8-6 overall (4-0 Ivy). Cornell falls to 8-9 (2-3 Ivy).
"It was a messy, sloppy, thank-God-we-won-the-game win," Harvard Head Coach Kathy Delaney Smith said. "But we got tough, got determined, and got through it. Cornell is traditionally very physical and aggressive."
No contest there. Big Red players racked up an impressive total of 20 personal fouls, and much to the delight of Crimson fans ("Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!") three Cornell starters fouled out.
"It was ugly," Crimson guard Cara Frey said. "The only good thing about the game is that we were down and came back. We proved that we were able to play that ugly basketball--we didn't fold."
Things got messy as early as the opening tip-off: Harvard center Debbie Flandermeyer tapped the balled to Frey, who barely got her hands on it before being knocked down by Cornell's Tarsh Harrison.
All looked grim as Cornell forced two early turnovers and jumped to an early 10-5 lead. A full 12 minutes into the first half, the Harvard offense couldn't solve the Big Red full-court press.
"We had two things going wrong," Delaney Smith said. "Basic shots just didn't fall in, and an uncharacteristically high number of turnovers were being made."
"We got a little frantic," said senior Co-Captain Erin Maher. "We wanted to get up early, but we couldn't shift the momentum until later on."
Late in the first half, the Crimson tidied up its game and gained confidence. At halftime, the natural order had been restored: the score was 35-26.
But Cornell's Liz Caracciolo opened up the second half with a three and the Big Red eventually tied the game, 50-50.
"We have a problem with putting teams away," Delaney Smith said. "We need to dig a grave and keep them in it."
The secret to this game, though, just might have been Cornell's trash-talkin' (genuine Ithican mountain-woman style, to boot).
Cornell talked all night, but the refs finally whistled leading scorer Marie Watson for her verbal improvisations with seven minutes to go.