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They took care of the ball, passed it brilliantly, and—for most of the night— watched as streaks of fire streamed from the ball whenever a Crimson shooter launched a shot.
Well, that last part isn’t true, but it certainly seemed like it as the Harvard women’s basketball team (6-4) dismantled Quinnipiac (2-5) 94-58 last night in Lavietes Pavilion.
Last Friday’s loss to Hofstra, coupled with another defeat at Boston University last Tuesday, marked only the second time in the last four seasons the Crimson dropped two in a row.
“That’s unusual for us, and they were games we felt we should’ve won,” coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. I don’t know why we got tight. Too many of us were trying too hard.”
Harvard made sure from the start, however, that the count wouldn’t run to three.
Playing a nearly flawless first half, the Crimson jumped out to a 50-33 half time lead and hardly looked back.
“We snapped out of it,” Delaney-Smith said.
That’s putting it lightly.
Torching the nets, Harvard shot a blistering 60 percent from the field and nearly matched that clip from behind the arc, sinking 14-of-25 for a 56 percent success rate.
Five Crimson players scored in double digits, with captain center Reka Cserny leading the charge.
Hitting eight-of-nine field goals, including a perfect three-for-three mark from behind the arc, the 6’3 senior was most efficient, going for 21 points, five boards, and four assists in 20 minutes on the court.
“There was a lot of frustration after last week when we lost our confidence,” Cserny said. “We all shot really well, for whatever reason.”
From the start, Harvard was coming up with loose balls, hitting the open man, and most importantly, knocking down open looks.
Junior guard Jess Holsey hit a floating runner from the baseline and then swished an open three that barely disturbed the net from the right wing. Junior forward Maureen McCaffery, for her part, made a jumper in the lane to give the Crimson a 29-14 lead a little over nine minutes into the game.
Then, with about four minutes left before the break, junior forward Shana Franklin hit a three-pointer and Holsey went coast-to-coast to inflate the margin to 47-23.
The three-point shot was one of four that Franklin dropped en route to a career-high 18 points.
In the first half, the Crimson dished out 16 assists against one turnover.
This from a team that has been averaging over 20 turnovers per contest.
“Only one turnover in the first half—for us, that’s wonderful,” Delaney-Smith said.
After shooting 58 percent in the opening frame, however, it appeared Harvard would be hard pressed to match such an output in the second period.
But the Crimson did just that, amazingly hitting on each of its first ten attempts from the floor.
“There was a loose confidence on the court tonight,” Delaney-Smith said.
The crisp passing carried over as well, with Holsey and senior guard Katie Murphy leading the charge.
Holsey finished with nine assists to go with her 14 points, and Murphy handed out eight helpers, fitting accessories to her nine points.
As the second half wore on, treys from Cserny, Franklin, and junior guard Laura Robinson continued to rain down like marshmallow from the sky after the State Puff Marshmallow Man got blown up in the movie “Ghostbusters.”
A three-ball from Franklin out of the right corner pushed the Harvard advantage to 74-43 with just over 13 minutes to play. For a while, it looked like Harvard would go well over 100 points, as the Crimson reached 88 points with more than seven minutes to play.
But liberal substitution and an unfamiliar lineup led to a dry spell that lasted nearly five minutes.
Harvard was solid defensively, as well. The defense limited Quinnipiac’s Krystal Pressley, who had been averaging over 20 points per game, to just 11 on four-of-12 shooting, and held the Bobcats to below 37 percent from the field.
The Crimson will next face Old Dominion in Norfolk, Va., on Wednesday in a match-up at 12:30 p.m.
—Staff writer J. Patrick Coyne can be reached at email@example.com.
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