It took a true team effort for the Crimson to take down the Big Red.
With four players scoring in double figures, the Harvard women’s basketball team was able to take down Cornell. Despite seeing 12 lead changes throughout the contest, a three-point basket by co-captain Kaitlyn Dinkins with just under 12 minutes to go in the second half gave the Crimson a lead it would never relinquish.
After returning from a four-game road trip during which the team went 1-3, Harvard (11-14, 4-7 Ivy), defeated the Big Red (15-10, 6-5) by a score of 60-54 on Friday night at Lavietes Pavilion. The win allowed the Crimson to hold on to its undefeated 34-0 record against Cornell at home.
“We were like, 'Guys this is our stomping ground,'” co-captain Erin McDonnell said. “We love playing here in Lavietes, and this is our home, so let's just take it to these two teams and get two big victories in a row.”
The win set Harvard up to win its first back-to-back Ivy contests this season. Plagued by injuries and inconsistency, the team has dropped many close games throughout the season.
“We hadn’t [won back to back games], so there was a big question mark in my mind on if we were healthy enough and tough enough to do it,” coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said.
The last time the two Ancient Eight foes faced off, the Crimson held on for a close 61-57 win on Feb. 14. With the Big Red being held to just 33 percent shooting, Harvard was able to claim victory behind 17 points from McDonnell and a strong performance by junior Kit Metoyer.
Similar to the shooting woes that Cornell faced the first time it faced the Crimson this season, the visitors were kept to just 36 percent shooting from the field. Harvard also held its Ancient Eight foe to just nine attempts from the free throw line. With the Crimson committing just 11 fouls in the contest, the Big Red was forced to earn nearly ever basket the hard way.
Cornell forward Nia Marshall, who put up 27 points on Harvard the first time around, was held to just nine points on 4-for-12 shooting.
The Crimson got off to a bit of a slow start, entering the break down four, but a second-half turnaround where it outscored the Big Red, 37-27, was enough for Harvard to end up on top. In past games Delaney-Smith has cited slow starts as a major factor in the demise of the Crimson in close losses, but it was a struggle the team was able to overcome this week.
McDonnell played an essential role in the second half turnaround, with all 15 of her points coming in the second frame. She shot 6-for-7 during the 20-minute period, setting the tempo for a 16-4 run by Harvard to seal the victory.
Once again, the Crimson’s inside game was a force to be reckoned with. Harvard came out on top in rebounding and second chance points, led by senior Temi Fagbenle and junior AnnMarie Healy.
Each member of the frontcourt duo contributed 11 points. Fagbenle recorded her 11th double-double of the season as she added 11 rebounds, while Healy was close behind with nine boards.
Turnovers plagued the Harvard offense as it gave up the ball 15 times over the course of 40 minutes, while the Big Red only coughed it up seven times. A trio of Cornell starters had two steals apiece to slow some of the Harvard momentum throughout the contest.
With senior guard Ali Curtis, who averages nearly 28 minutes per game, out of the lineup due to an injury, the backcourt combination of juniors Shilpa Tummala and Metoyer has been running much of the Crimson offense.
“Shilpa is still working at bringing consistency to her game,” Delaney-Smith said. “I think she’s an elite player who hasn’t been very consistent for us.”
Metoyer had one of her best games of the season against the Big Red, as she was one of Harvard’s top scorers with 15 points in the contest.
Though the game was close down to the end, the Crimson played with a cushion it has not been used to as of late, as seven games this season prior to Friday night have been determined by four points or less.
—Staff writer Theresa C. Hebert can be reached at email@example.com.
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