Harvard women’s basketball (20-5, 8-4 Ivy) is headed to the inaugural Ivy League Tournament.
This weekend, the Crimson punched a ticket by splitting contests against rivals Yale (14-11, 5-7 Ivy) and Brown (14-11, 5-7 Ivy). After a disheartening 57-52 loss in New Haven, Conn., Harvard bounced back with a triumph over the Bears.
The Friday-Saturday doubleheader comes near the end of a season of peaks and valleys. Between mid-November and late January, the Crimson ripped off 16 straight wins. But in recent weeks, Harvard has hit rough patches—most recently in the defeat against the middling Bulldogs.
“We do have players that can score,” coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “We are executing our offense better. We just need them to step back up and score like they were before conference play.”
There’s no telling what the young time might achieve in the coming weeks. But one fact is certain—the Crimson will have the chance to keep on playing.
Both new and veteran players for the Crimson have shown flashes of talent and given glimpses of what the team is capable of. However, while most programs around the league seem to have hit their stride, Harvard still appears to be in the growing phase.
For Harvard, it’s not a question of whether the team has sufficient talent but whether that talent will manifest at opportune times.
“We should be peaking, and we’ve talked about some things and made some adjustments,” Delaney-Smith said. “The process of taking the next step is consistently playing for 40 minutes.”
HARVARD 66, BROWN 63
Heading into Rhode Island after a disappointing defeat to the Bulldogs, Harvard found itself at a loss. After going on a 16-1 run to open the season, the Crimson had gone 3-4, landed at third in Ancient Eight standings, and faced a potential collapse of all the work it put in prior to its in-conference skid.
What was holding Harvard players back? Simply put, themselves.
“We had a meeting last night trying to identify what is the issue,” co-captain Destiny Nunley said. “We just felt a lot of pressure having the 16-0 winning streak. We just wanted to keep winning, which is true, but losing really set us back…. [S]ometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you reach the top of the mountain.”
Still, the Crimson faced a Brown opponent that sat fourth in the Ivy League and had great incentive to come out of the Pizzitola Sports Center with a win.
Not surprisingly, with the lights shining brightest, freshman forward and coveted recruit Jeannie Boehm was the one to get the Crimson to an early lead.
Boehm had led the team in the first quarter with 10 points to push the Crimson to an early 17-15 advantage. The rookie’s dominance forced the Bears to adjust their strategy to focus more on Boehm.