Women's Basketball Tops Big Red, Earns WNIT Berth

Sarah P Reid

Harvard junior Miriam Rutzen helped the Harvard women’s basketball team clinch a berth to the WNIT on Saturday night, putting up 12 points and a team-high 11 rebounds in the Crimson’s 65-59 victory against Cornell. It was Rutzen’s second double-double of the 2011-12 season.

Following a missed Cornell layup, sophomore Christine Clark grabbed the board and pushed the ball up the floor. Seconds later, the ball was in the hands of co-captain Lindsay Louie who squared up and let the three fly. Nothing but net.

The basket wasn’t a buzzer-beater, nor did it even occur at a pivotal moment of play. But on senior night, that didn’t matter. The crowd reacted as if that shot had just won the Harvard women’s basketball team the game. In actuality, it was the first basket of the night.

With that in its back pocket, the Crimson (16-11, 9-4 Ivy) took control of the game and never looked back, topping Cornell (11-16, 5-8), 65-59, in a wire-to-wire win Saturday night at Lavietes Pavilion. This victory seals Harvard’s second-place finish in the Ivy League and earns the team a bid to play in the WNIT.

“It was a great team booster at the beginning of the game,” said co-captain Brogan Berry of Louie’s three. “It got everyone to stand up; it got everyone so hyped. It was just what we needed to start the game out.”

Fittingly, the game from start to finish was about the two seniors: Louie and Berry. Though Louie averages only 4.9 minutes per game this season while Berry is sixth all time in program history with 1,398 points, Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith spoke of both their importance to the team.

“I think they are two exceptional young women,” Delaney-Smith said. “They are both very different in their careers here, both very valuable to the program, both have given their hearts, souls, and tirelessly worked as captains for this team.”

Louie has not received as much playing time thanks in part to a series of injuries, according to Delaney-Smith, leaving Berry to be the leader on the floor.

“Brogan is probably one of the best point guards that has ever put on a uniform [for Harvard],” Delaney-Smith said. “She’s broken all kinds of records and created some very exciting history. She is the quarterback on the floor. It doesn’t matter whether she is the scoring [leader] or being the calm leader out there. No matter what her stats say, she is invaluable to us.”

And on Saturday night, Berry’s leadership lived up to the hype.

The Crimson was on top from start to finish, pushing the lead at one point to a game high of 13. That comfortable distance was short-lived, though, as the Big Red quickly fought back, cutting its deficit to only three with 5:38 remaining in the second period.

From there, though, it was all Harvard. Thanks to a layup from Clark and a three-pointer from junior Victoria Lippert, the lead was pushed back to eight.

And then Berry got the ball.

Catching it on the left wing, the point guard dribbled to her right and pulled up just in front of the charity stripe. The baby jumper was good, and the Crimson finished off the game with its second weekend victory.

“It was really good to come out with a win, especially on a Senior Night,” Louie said. “Our girls have been working really hard all season, and to see how much love and emotion everyone came out tonight was really great.”

Alongside the seniors, junior Emma Golen led the team with 15 points, including shooting four for seven from behind the arc.