HANOVER, N.H.--After last weekend's split against Columbia and Cornell, which ended the Harvard women's basketball team's chances of an Ivy League title, Crimson Coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said the team's final showdown with first-place Dartmouth last night would be a test of how good the Crimson could be.
She had the right idea, but the wrong team.
Playing in Leede Arena, or the House That Banghart Built--as in Dartmouth senior guard Courtney--the Crimson (16-10, 9-5 Ivy) faced a Big Green team (20-7, 12-2) already headed to the Dance that wanted to put on a final home show for the Hanover fans.
A sell-out crowd of 2,007, which seemed to include 1,000 little girls with "Courtney Rocks" painted on their faces, screamed as the Big Green saw how good it could be as it stole, rebounded and shot its way to a 96-74 win that was Dartmouth all the way.
After starting the game on an 11-2 run, the Big Green led 53-27 at half, buoyed by a 23-2 run near the end of the half. The Crimson could get no closer than 20 points down in the second half.
The Crimson, hobbled by injuries and plagued by turnovers, refused to relent, however, and the young Harvard team did show a glimpse of the level it had played at before being hit with a string of injuries to some key players.
Harvard captain Laela Sturdy played tough in the paint, winding up with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Senior guard Courtney Egelhoff added 12 points, getting hot from behind the three-point line in the early minutes of the second half and finishing on 4-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc. Both players put forth valiant efforts in trying to win one last game before the final buzzer sounded on their stellar senior seasons.
But Banghart, an ultra-competitive, sometimes-showboating, often-overacting 5'8 point guard ("fiery" is too nice, "arrogant" too harsh) with a stellar career of her own, played up to her potential, which she failed to do against the Crimson the first time around. She set the Ivy three-point mark in the first half and connected on 8-of-16 from three-point land for the game while using an unorthodox scissor-kick shot. Her Ivy career ended with 145 treys, eclipsing the old mark of 138.
In five shots at the end of the first half, Banghart swished five three-pointers, two coming two steps behind the arc. After being taken out shortly thereafter, she received a standing ovation from the partisan crowd. She finished with a career-high 38 points while also tallying six rebounds, five steals and four assists.
The Crimson fell behind from the beginning, and when it tried to get its footing, as it did on several occasions, Dartmouth would pull the rug out from under it with a key steal or trey.
But the Crimson can take comfort in one thing. Banghart won't be around next year. Neither will forward Liz Martin, the Big Green's other senior, who was held to just six points last night.
Freshman Katherine Hanks, who finished with 26 points, 19 of which came in the first half on 8-of-8 shooting, will still be around, but the Green will be without Banghart and without her direction.
While Sturdy and Egelhoff will be gone and missed, the Crimson will still have a solid corps of smart, quick and tall athletes.
With Jenn Monti running the point and Katie Gates and Johnson back from injuries, the Crimson will put on the floor an experienced team that will also include seasoned players Bree Kelley, Kate Ides, Sarah Johnson, Lisa Kowal and Laura Barnard, all of whom showed flashes of brilliance throughout the year.
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