It has been a heartbreaking two days for Harvard basketball. Four miles and 25 hours after the men’s team fell in the final seconds against Holy Cross, the women’s squad (1-1, 0-0 Ivy) lost a 63-62 road contest against Boston University (1-1, 0-0 Patriot).
With 4.8 seconds left and the ball under the Terriers’ basket on Tuesday night, the Crimson had one final chance to finish off its opponents. Coach Kathy Delaney-Smith drew up an inbounds play for senior forward Temi Fagbenle.
Just seconds later, the horn sounded without Harvard getting off a shot in time as the team could not gain control of the inbounds pass.
“We were just hoping to get it in to Temi for an easy layup or shot close to the basket,” co-captain Erin McDonnell said. “We were all anticipating that rebound and trying to crash and put it back in the last few seconds.”
Fagbenle and McDonnell led the way for a balanced the Harvard attack as the duo combined for 24 points and 24 rebounds. Seven players scored at least six points for the Crimson.
But the story of the game was the resilience of BU. The early moments saw Harvard jump out to an 12-0 lead, as the team hit five of its first seven shots and its first two three-pointers.
Even though the Crimson offense cooled off over the remainder of the first half, the visiting team managed to maintain its double-digit lead. Intermission seemed to bring an entirely new Terrier team to Case Gym.
The beginning of the second half looked very similar to Harvard’s final frame against Colgate in the season opener, which saw the Crimson allow the Raiders to stay in the game for much of the second half.
“We definitely want to eliminate that M.O. of being a first half team and a second half team,” McDonnell said. “I think that the big focus for us is to recognize that [giving up leads] keeps happening to us, be aware of it, and just dig even deeper and stick to our fundamentals, and be that much more detail-oriented in those moments up by 15.”
BU trimmed Harvard’s 12-point halftime lead to five before the first media timeout of the second half. Following this hot start, the Terriers always had an answer for the Crimson in the second half.
A pair of sophomores led the charge for BU, as forward Meghan Green tallied 19 points and guard Courtney Latham seemed to drive past the Harvard defense and finish with her left hand every time it looked like Harvard was pulling away.
The Terriers rode the momentum of its home crowd and a strong inside game to take a 53-51 lead with four minutes left, and the hosts finished the contest with 40 points in the paint.
But the Crimson struggled to get high-percentage shots inside after the first few minutes of the game and shot 29 percent from the field after intermission while allowing BU to shoot 52 percent.
“They just came at our throats and were attacking us, and they were driving hard at us,” McDonnell said. “We didn’t have early rotations and were just getting beat to the basket way too easily.”
After junior guard Kit Metoyer hit a three to cut the Terrier lead to one, the teams began a pattern of trading baskets that would last for the rest of the game. Harvard would trim the lead to one; BU would get it back to three.
Delaney-Smith called a timeout with her team down one with 26.5 seconds left and a chance to take the lead. After the Terriers intentionally fouled with 15 seconds on the clock, a flurry of passes led to junior guard Shilpa Tummala’s pass inside to Fagbenle being deflected out of bounds, setting up the Crimson’s final chance.
“Temi makes that shot nine times out of ten,” Metoyer said. “We all gave her a pat on the back because we expect that to go in and so does she. We definitely have so much confidence in each other and in ourselves as teammates that whoever is taking the shot, that’s who we want taking it. And whether it goes in or it doesn’t, we’ll deal with that afterwards.”
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