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Coming off two losses on the road, Harvard (14-8, 6-2 Ivy) outlasted the Big Red (5-18, 2-7) Friday night at Lavietes Pavilion, winning 73-68.
Cornell came into the game riding a five-game losing streak but played defiantly against the hosts. The Big Red never let Harvard out of reach, hitting a crowd-quieting three every time the Crimson got on a run. Cornell freshmen Shelby Lyman and Allyson Dimagno accounted for eight of the Big Red’s 10 three-pointers.
“I’m not surprised [that] they were scrappy; I’m not surprised they came at us the way they did,” said Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. “We beat them pretty handedly [at Cornell], and they’re the classic young team with nothing to lose, going after the team that’s in the race.”
With 5:02 left in the game, the Big Red got within six, but sophomore Victoria Lippert took control of the game, scoring eight straight points and building a double-digit Crimson lead with 2:32 left on the clock. Lippert led Harvard with 15 points and added six rebounds, while converting on 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.
The Big Red responded and shrunk the lead to five with 52 seconds left. But junior point guard Brogan Berry stayed calm and sank both her free throws to give Harvard the 70-63 lead.
“I really like having my hands on the ball at the end of the game, no matter the pressure,” said Berry, who later added another free throw and made the game-winning steal to close it out.
The junior finished out the game with 12 points and eight assists while shooting 50 percent from the field.
Starting off the first game of Alumnae Weekend, the players also showed their solidarity with raising awareness for breast cancer by wearing pink shoes or laces, as well as pink t-shirts while sitting on the bench.
Both teams began the game shooting almost exclusively from beyond the arc. Rookie Christine Clark began the night for the Crimson hitting a trey on the assist from co-captain Christine Matera. The Big Red responded with a three of its own and added two free throws to take the lead.
After swapping another pair of threes, Cornell took its last lead of the night, 8-6, with 17:44 to play in the first half. Harvard slowly scored seven points over a four-minute span, capped off by a deep three-pointer by Berry.
With 12:30 on the clock and the Crimson ahead, 13-11, both teams exhibited sloppy offense, combining for five turnovers and three steals.
But Harvard regained composure, going on an 8-2 run led by senior Emma Markley, who scored six of the eight points. Markley scored 10 of her 14 points in the first half, while the rest of her points came in the first minute of the second half. The senior closed out the night of her birthday with 11 rebounds, good for her second straight game with a double-double.
“They couldn’t stop me in the first half,” said Markley, who added that she “just tried to play as strong as possible.”
The Big Red defense couldn’t stop the Crimson near the basket, as noted by the 30 points in the paint compared to Cornell’s 14.
Harvard not only closed out the half with two jumpers and a free throw to take the lead, 33-28, but also came up with an emphatic block on the other side of the court with the clock expiring. The Crimson went into the locker room shooting a solid 45 percent from the floor in the first half, but Cornell’s 62-percent shooting from beyond the arc kept the visiting team in the game.
Harvard extended its lead to start off the second half, but with 17:15 left, Lyman struck again with a three to cut the lead to six. The next seven minutes saw the Crimson unable to distance itself from the Big Red. Despite hitting 63 percent of her shots in the first half, Markley went cold, shooting just 2-of-9 in the second half and missing her last seven shots.
With 10:58 left in the game, Cornell sank another trey to limit the Harvard lead to six. The Big Red added a jumper to bring it to a four-point game before Berry responded with two clutch free throws. On the next possession, the Big Red made a jumper on a second-chance opportunity, bringing the deficit back to four.
But sophomore Elle Hagedorn set the stage for Lippert’s run, sinking back-to-back three-pointers with 6:16 left in the game.
“It felt great,” she said. “Unfortunately, we let them score right back but…I think we really needed the energy boost [to finish the game strong].”
“We came together as a team, and we weathered it, so we’re walking out with a win,” Delaney-Smith added.
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