With less than a minute left on the clock, the Harvard’s women’s basketball team trailed, 79-75, to Eastern Michigan. Crimson (5-4) co-captain AnneMarie Healy took the ball to the middle of the Eagle defense and fought through a foul to make the layup and the ensuing and-one free throw, but Eastern Michigan (5-2) held on for a close 85-81 win.
Harvard led by 10 points midway through the third quarter, but the Crimson’s defensive woes and offensive mistakes led to Eastern Michigan storming back into the game and ultimately a Harvard loss.
Eastern Michigan’s Cha Sweeney led all scorers with 31 points. The 5’2” guard spearheaded her team’s comeback in the third quarter with 10 points in a matter of minutes late in the quarter, including two and-ones and a three.
She had 27 in the second half.
Sweeney’s most telling contribution came with the score tied with 1:29 remaining in the contest. She faked left, went right, and as she went up to the rim, she reversed with her right hand, and banked in the blow to the Crimson faithful in attendance. Sweeney then made all four free throws to ice the game.
“We knew that going in she was kind of the head of the snake, and we knew that it wasn’t going to be on just one person to stop her,” said senior Kit Metoyer, who led the Crimson in scoring with six three-pointers.
The Crimson had a solid defensive plan going into the game, but the team did not execute the blueprint consistently during the contest.
“All we talked about was stopping the drive, and all we did was allow them to go the basket and then foul them,” Crimson coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “My team just likes offense, not defense. And it’s a huge weakness for us. It’s [going to] come back to haunt us.”
The defense allowed 19 offensive rebounds, which led to 17 second chance points. The Crimson were leaking points left and right, despite the Eagles shooting just 42 percent from the field.
Eastern Michigan pounded Harvard down low, scoring 40 points in the paint. The free throw disparity was pronounced as well, with Eastern Michigan beating Harvard, 24-10, in free throw attempts.
On the other side of the ball, there were more problems for the Crimson.
For a team that shot 52 percent from the field, hit 12 triples at a 43 percent clip, and totaled 24 assists, Harvard seemed to be en route to an offensive outburst. However, that was tempered by 20 Crimson turnovers, which led to Eastern Michigan finishing with 22 points of turnovers and 12 fast break points.
“I was very surprised by some of our decisions in our passes,” Delaney-Smith said. “Again, they were our point guards who just made very poor [and] bad decisions.”
As to why there we so many turn overs, Delaney-Smith didn’t feel there was too much defensive pressure on her offence.
“I thought the zone would bother us more, but we shot really well so it didn’t bother us,” Delaney-Smith said. “We got all the shots we wanted.”
The players were in agreement with their coach; with too many turnovers, it was going to be an uphill battle.
“Our goal every game is obviously to have 12, 13 turnovers and to have 20—it’s really hard to win a game when you’re turning over the ball that much and giving the team so many opportunities to capitalize,” Metoyer said.