Despite strong offensive showings from all three outgoing senior starters, the Harvard women’s basketball team (14-13, 9-5 Ivy) finished up an otherwise promising campaign with a couple defeats on the road against Penn and Princeton.
The Killer P’s both completed season sweeps of the Crimson, accounting for four of its five Ancient Eight losses. The Tigers (23-4, 12-1 Ivy) won Friday night’s contest, 79-69, thanks to a couple of big runs in the middle of the game. The Quakers (23-4, 12-1 Ivy) then came out ahead, 62-46, on Saturday night. Penn and Princeton will vie for the Ivy League title on Tuesday night.
Harvard struggled with rebounding and paint presence, recording double digit deficits in both rebounding and points in the paint in each game. Captain AnnMarie Healy rounded out her most complete season for the Crimson with another strong weekend, posting 21 points against the Tigers before dropping a team-high 17 against the Quakers. She finishes with 954 career points.
“My seniors are very proud of what they’ve accomplished,” coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “It was short of what our ultimate goal was, but I thought their leadership, their hard work, they were great captains and great role models. They were instrumental in getting the culture back where I wanted it at Harvard. Next year, they’ve laid the groundwork for us to be a pretty strong team.”
Penn 62, Harvard 46
After being held to 25.0% shooting in the teams’ first matchup at Lavietes Pavilion, the Crimson’s shooters went cold once again against the Quakers, making just 16-of-56 (28.6%) from the field at The Palestra.
Healy went 6-for-12 from the floor for her 27th game with double figures in points this season, but her four fellow starters combined to make just six of their 29 attempts. The Crimson shot 21.7% from three-point range and made just 9-of-14 free throws as well.
Harvard started the game well, using a 5-0 solo run by senior Shilpa Tummala to take a 15-12 lead after one quarter. A dismal offensive second quarter doomed them, however, as they shot just 1-of-15 from the field; Penn overwhelmed them, 15-2, in the period to take a ten point halftime lead.
“We played really well,” Delaney-Smith said, “and I thought we started strong, played well, but unfortunately had a stretch where we couldn’t score. That was our demise.... We dug a hole and couldn’t recover from that.”
Quakers’ star forward Michelle Nwokedi was a thorn in the Crimson’s side, scoring 18 to go along with 14 rebounds. She helped Penn maintain a 51-37 edge on the glass and 30-20 scoring margin in the paint.
“I think we actually did a pretty decent job on them,” Tummala said. “We are undersized, they have four or five of the best post players combined in the country. We don’t necessarily have the size, but we fought.”
Six straight points by Healy cut the gap to seven midway through the third, but an immediate reply from the Quakers was capped off by a Kasey Chambers three-pointer that pushed their lead to 20 after three quarters.
Princeton 79, Harvard 69
Despite 24 points from captain Kit Metoyer and 21 from Healy, the Crimson could not outlast Ivy frontrunners Princeton at Jadwin Gymnasium in Princeton, N.J. on Friday night.
Harvard grabbed a 14-7 lead midway through the first quarter only to see the Tigers go on a 10-0 run in the final 3:30 of the period and take a 20-16 advantage into the break. The home side grabbed seven offensive rebounds over the course of four possessions during that spurt.
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