PALO ALTO, Calif.--Cinderella is alive and well, and she has enchanted the Harvard women's basketball team.
Tonight at midnight Harvard meets Arkansas for a spot in the Sweet 16 in an attempt to continue the magic ride it began Saturday against top-seeded Stanford.
Harvard (23-4, 12-2 Ivy) did Saturday night what no 16th-seeded team in the history of the men's or women's NCAA Tournament has ever done before--it won. The Crimson became the first 16 seed ever to win a game in the Big Dance, shocking top seed Stanford (21-6, 17-1 Pac-10), 71-67, at Maples Pavilion in the West Region's first-round matchup. It was the first victory ever by an Ivy League women's team in the NCAAs.
Harvard's historic achievement also snaps a 59-game winning streak at Maples Pavilion for the Cardinal that dated back to the final game of the 1993-94 season. It is the first time since 1982 that Stanford has lost in the first-round of the Tournament, and it is Stanford Coach Tara Van-Derveer's first-ever first-round loss as well.
"I'm really happy because no one thought we could do in but us," Harvard Coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. "We've prided ourselves on breaking records (this year), and this certainly tops that list."
Co-captain and All-American Allison Feaster led the way for Harvard with one of the most dominating performances of her stellar career. Feaster finished with 35 points, 13 rebounds and three steals in a remarkable 39 minutes of action.
Juniors Suzie Miller and Sarah Russell pouredin 12 and 11 points, respectively, and combinedfor 10 rebounds. Senior Alison Seanor turned in afantastic all-around effort as well, chipping inseven points, grabbing four rebounds and dishingout four assists.
All-American Olympia Scott--playing in herfinal collegiate game--turned in an 18-point,eight-rebound effort for the Cardinal, who waswithout the services of All-Americans KristinFolkl and Vanessa Nygaard, both sidelined withtorn knee ligaments. Junior Regan Freuen added 19points and six assists in the losing cause.
"This is one of the best wins I've everexperienced," Feaster said. "I can't tell you theamount of adversity we've faced just coming inhere, but somehow we did it."
When Scott hit two free throws to put Stanfordahead, 63-62, with 3:58 left in the game, itbecame evident that the contest would go down tothe wire. After Scott sent the partisan crowd of5,137 into a frenzy with two more from the charitystripe one minute later, the Cardinal looked likeit might be able to stave off the scare from theCrimson.
HARVARD 71STANFORD 67
But Feaster, Miller and Seanor helped Harvardend the game on a 9-2 run, sealing thehistory-making victory. The Crimson's surge beganwhen Feaster made the defensive play of the game.
Off of a missed shot by Harvard, Stanfordsophomore point guard Milena Flores grabbed therebound and launched a pass upcourt to Scott whowas out in front of everyone. But Feaster, lookingmore like a defensive back than a small forward,sprinted after Scott and leaped high in the air tosnare the ball and prevent the uncontested layup.
Shortly thereafter, Seanor fed Feaster with agorgeous backdoor pass that the All-Americanconverted into a layup to pull Harvard to withinone. Following a missed shot by the Cardinal,Miller came back and hit an off-balance runnerfrom the foul line to put the
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