In its flashiest offensive game of the season, Harvard women’s basketball exploded for a 97-73 win over rival Yale to improve to 7-0 at home this season. The 97 points in its dismantling win over the Bulldogs are the most scored by the Crimson on the year.
Harvard (10-6, 2-1 Ivy) shot lights out against its rivals, making 61.3 percent of its attempts from the field and 63.6 percent from three. Yale (8-8, 1-2) was unable to stop the Crimson offense, especially senior guard Taylor Rooks, who shot 9-for-11 for 22 points while grabbing nine rebounds.
“We shot well, so then we play well,” coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said.
Harvard took control of the game in the middle of the second quarter. Its commanding lead was thanks to an impressive run. The Crimson’s 11-0 run was started by a Rooks jump shot. After hitting one of two free-throws, junior guard Madeline Raster stole the ball back and moved it up the court to junior guard Sydney Skinner for a fastbreak layup. Skinner then hit a three-pointer on the next possession. Junior guard Nani Redford followed up with a step-back three-pointer of her own to give Harvard a 14 point lead, 45-31.
“The start of the game for us was super important,” Raster said. “When we start well we end up playing a full game.”
In the early going of the game, defense reigned supreme. The first score came 1:38 into the game when Rooks finished on a reverse layup. Following a Bulldog fastbreak layup, sophomore forward Jeannie Boehm hit a reverse of her own to out Harvard ahead again, 4-2.
The offenses came alive, with Yale’s three-pointer followed up by a three from Rooks. With 5:58 left in the quarter, Boehm hit another layup inside. Rooks got a quick steal off of the Bulldog inbounds pass and dished to senior co-captain Kirby Porter for a quick jump shot. The four points were scored in a quick 10 seconds, forcing a Yale timeout.
“Good ball movement, finding the extra pass, and people being super unselfish are qualities we strive for as a team, and we showed that tonight,” junior co-captain Madeline Raster said.
With 4:27 left in the first period, Skinner came into the game as a substitution. She made quick use of her time, knocking down three-pointers on back-to-back possessions for the Crimson.
Bulldog senior forward Jen Berkowitz, the Ivy League leader in shooting percentage last season and this season, converted on a pivotal and-one opportunity to pull Yale within three with only two minutes to go. Boehm answered on Berkowitz down low by hitting her own layup on the other end for Harvard.
With only 14 seconds until the end of the first, Bulldog sophomore guard Roxy Barahman banked in a three-pointer to pull within two. However, Raster worked her buzzer-beater magic, hitting a jump shot as the clock sounded at the end of the first quarter for the second straight game, making it 23-19.
The Crimson ran into early foul trouble, as two of its top three scorers, Boehm and sophomore guard Katie Benzan, each had two fouls at the beginning of the contest and were forced to watch much of the second quarter from the bench. With 5:34 left in the half, Porter committed her second personal foul of the game, sending the co-captain to the bench to join Boehm and Benzan in avoiding fouling out.
“For us to not even blink over foul trouble, that makes me happy,” Delaney-Smith said.
Harvard kept up the momentum each trip down the court before the end of the half. Following a Redford missed three-pointer, Yale seemed to collect the rebound. As the two teams transitioned towards the other end of the court, freshman forward Rachel Levy poked the ball away and sent it bouncing out of bounds. Levy hustled past the Bulldogs’ defenders and dove with her arm outstretched, saving the ball and causing the Lavietes home crowd to erupt with cheers. The Crimson’s possession, however, would come up short.