With less than 10 seconds left on the clock, Harvard needed someone to step up and make a shot to avoid a one-point loss to Columbia. The conference defeat would have dealt an early blow to the Crimson’s title aspirations.
Junior point guard Brogan Berry saw the clock winding down and looked down the court to dish the ball to someone with a good look at the basket. Berry saw an open Christine Clark on the right side and immediately passed the ball to the rookie. Clark fumbled the ball but quickly composed herself and took the jumper.
With three and a half seconds left, Clark sank the shot to give the Crimson a 69-68 win.
“For her to make that shot and not have us be upset in the in the first away weekend of Ivy League play was a really big moment for us,” co-captain Christine Matera said. “Christine’s shot was the most important shot for us up to that point in the season.”
The clutch basket is indicative of the type of season the rookie enjoyed. From the very beginning, Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith trusted the freshman with a spot in the starting lineup, and Clark never let her coach down, starting all 28 games. She finished the season fourth on the team in scoring with 12.1 points per game and second in rebounding, averaging 4.7 boards.
“She’s a huge part of our team,” sophomore Victoria Lippert said. “She’s very explosive off the dribble, and she’s only going to get better with time.”
The rookie would take over games from time to time, establishing herself as a serious scoring threat in the league. Against the Lions the second time around, Clark punished Columbia with 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting. The rookie shot 50.6 percent on the season, a remarkable statistic for a first-year player learning the ropes in the conference.
“I can’t recall any obstacles [to becoming part of] the team because everyone is just so nice and the team always comes first, no matter what,” Clark said. “Learning to play college basketball—Division I in the Ivy League—was somewhat of an obstacle because I needed to adjust to that level of play.”
Her teammates are confident Clark will continue developing as a player and come back next season improved and ready.
“She’s young, and any mistakes that she’s made can be completely interpreted to the fact that she’s only a freshman,” Matera said. “I know just from experience this year that she’s going to grow as a player, and she’s going to work hard all summer going into next year.”
—Staff writer Brian A. Campos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.