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Crimson Women's Basketball Falls to Providence

Sophomore Victoria Lippert, shown here in previous action, turned in a team-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor Friday night at Providence College, but the Crimson fell to the Friars, 71-60, for its third loss.
Sophomore Victoria Lippert, shown here in previous action, turned in a team-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor Friday night at Providence College, but the Crimson fell to the Friars, 71-60, for its third loss.
By Jacob D. H. Feldman, Contributing Writer

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Entering halftime at Alumni Hall Friday evening, the Harvard women’s basketball team found itself down by just three to the hometown Friars, who were holding the largest lead of the game for either team.

Providence College quickly changed the dynamic when play resumed, as the Friars (1-3) jumped out to a seven-point lead with two quick baskets and ultimately left the arena with a 71-60 win—their first of the year.

“We looked tired or got soft or fogged out,” Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “I’m not sure exactly where the defensive breakdowns were. They beat us to loose balls; they beat us to rebounds. That’s all disappointing when it happens all night.”

Despite 19 points from co-captain Brogan Berry and a season-high contribution of 20 by junior Victoria Lippert, the Crimson fell to 0-3 for only the seventh time in the program’s history.

In the first half, neither team established a long-standing advantage. Only one lead was held for longer than two minutes in a period that saw eight ties and 11 lead changes.

As time expired in the half, Providence sophomore Rachel Pearson made a 15-foot jump shot to put the home team up by three entering the locker room.

Coming off the bench, Pearson contributed eight of her team’s 33 points in the first 20 minutes, while also netting six assists and three rebounds in her time on the court.

Yet the sophomore wasn’t nearly as successful in the second half, registering only two points and turning the ball over three times.

Although Pearson was unable to keep up her level of contribution, Friars senior Rachel Barnes stepped up in the second period. Barnes scored 15 in the last 20 minutes en route to a career-high 22-point effort.

Barnes had a knack for knocking down big shots on the night, including a three-pointer as the shot clock expired that pushed Providence’s lead to 45-40 after a small Harvard run had turned the contest into a one-possession ball game.

The clutch basket sparked a 16-4 streak that earned the Friars a 14-point lead. Yet, the Crimson responded with a 16-8 run that squeezed the Providence lead to six with just over one minute to play.

As time wound down, the Harvard squad needed only a couple of breaks to complete a comeback. But it got none, instead turning the ball over three times. The Friars pushed their lead back up to 11 before the buzzer sounded.

“We would go to the basket and then get soft,” Delaney-Smith said. “We would pass and then get soft.”

Throughout the game, the Crimson had trouble handling the ball effectively. The visitors’ comeback efforts were burdened by 22 turnovers that often came at the worst of times, ending potential scoring runs and giving the Friars valuable momentum.

The team tallied only nine assists in the game. It registered fewer than nine assists only four times in all of the 2010-11 season.

After the game, Delaney-Smith was blunt about the team’s play.

“Horrible, [I’m] very disappointed in them,” said Delaney-Smith of the squad’s performance. “They were too inconsistent, too schizophrenic, too undisciplined ... just some uncharacteristic play from us.”

The game’s lone bright spot may have been Berry, whose 19 points pushed her past Elizabeth Proudfit ’96 and into 12th place all-time in points scored in Harvard history with 1,116.

“At a time like this, it’s hard to celebrate those milestones, because I’m focusing on getting the team better and getting the team the first win of the season,” Berry said. “But it’s definitely an honor, and it says a lot to my coaches of the last three years and my teammates who helped me achieve that goal.”

Berry’s next chance to help the team win its first game will come in the Crimson’s home opener Tuesday.

“We have what it takes this year to be a great team and win a lot of ball games,” Berry said. “But today, we didn’t put all the aspects together. It showed on the court. We have a lot of room for improvement for the rest of the season.”

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Women's Basketball