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Facing a situation similar to last week’s matchup against Holy Cross, the Harvard women’s basketball team (2-4) held the lead going into the last seven minutes of Wednesday night’s game against Boston University (3-3).
But after falling to the Crusaders, this time, the Crimson prevailed, 62-57, at Lavietes Pavilion. Fueled by junior forward Emma Golen’s first double-double of the season, Harvard was paced by a balanced offensive attack that saw four starters score in double figures.
“We are a really good team,” Crimson coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “That is the irony of being 1-4 [coming into this game]. We really should be 4-1, but we’re not.”
Squandering a 13-point lead at home against Holy Cross in its previous matchup motivated the Crimson going into last night’s contest.
“Losing to Holy Cross was pretty disappointing,” Delaney-Smith said. “I thought we were a better team, and we don’t usually lose in our gym. And the fact that we were up 13 and let it slip away—it [was] an all-time disappointment.”
Riding on the shoulders of co-captain Brogan Berry's layup and pair of free throws—in addition to a late Golen steal—the Crimson redeemed itself, putting away BU in the final two minutes.
Along with her late-game heroics, Golen recorded a season-high 10 points and 10 rebounds to help Harvard to a win in a tight contest that featured 10 lead changes and no double-digit leads by either side.
“My job was to play defense on a pretty good scorer,” Golen said. “I knew going into it I was going to have to box out.”
The Crimson was the stronger team out of the gate, stringing together two consecutive baskets to take an 11-8 lead.
Golen began the scoring with an acrobatic lay-up around Boston University's leading scorer, Rashidat Agboola. Sophomore guard Christine Clark was then the beneficiary of a turnover forced by sophomore wing Missy Mullins.
Harvard rode the momentum swing to a 20-14 advantage before Boston University responded with seven unanswered points.
“BU is probably the second strongest team we have played,” Delaney-Smith said. “We knew we were going to see a much stronger team tonight.”
At the beginning of the second half, the Terriers pulled ahead and took a 34-29 advantage. But the Crimson responded with a 20-8 run highlighted by two consecutive coast-to-coast Clark layups.
“I think that we’ve been in that situation before with Holy Cross and URI, where they made runs at us late in the game,” Clark said. “This game we did a great job of coming together and not fouling them like we did in past games.”
Junior Chantell Alford, who had 14 of Boston University’s 27 second half points, carried the Terriers to within one with a three-pointer with 1:44 left in the contest.
But Clark and Golen completed back-to-back field goals to keep the Crimson ahead.
Despite the narrow margin and back-and-forth nature of the game, BU could not manage to take the lead. The Crimson held the advantage from 14:33 in the second half until the contest’s end.
“We had a few breakdowns offensively and a couple unnecessary turnovers that gave them a couple fast-break points, and they started to get a little momentum,” Golen said. “We just dug deep and knew we needed to get stops.”
Delaney-Smith's preaching of defense all week in practice paid off, as the Crimson forced 15 turnovers and held Boston University to 36 percent shooting from the field.
“I just think it was our defense tonight,” Delaney-Smith said. “That’s been our problem all along—holding teams to a reasonable number [and] getting consecutive stops. We’ve been working on it, and I thought tonight was terrific.”
Clark finished with 16 points for the Crimson, while Berry had 10 and junior guard Victoria Lippert scored 11.
Agboola was held to 12 points by the Crimson defense, and Mo Moran scored 18 for BU.
Although the Crimson outrebounded the Terriers, 47-34, Harvard shot a season-low 35 percent from the field and committed 18 turnovers.
“Rebounding has always been a point of emphasis for us,” Delaney-Smith said. “I have to credit BU for our low shooting percentage. Shooting percentage, turnovers, defense, and rebounding—either one or two of those have been a nemesis for us, and so if we can get it all in order we will be okay.”
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