With 3:43 remaining in the fourth quarter, the game was too close for comfort for the Black Bears. Maine’s consistent lead throughout its game against Harvard had shrunk to a difference of six points, a gap modest enough for Black Bear coach Amy Vachon to call a timeout.
Suddenly, the match between Maine (6-2) and the Crimson (4-5) transformed from a battle between players to a battle between the crowds. For the remainder of the game, the audience remained at its feet, with fans from the Pine Tree State cheering each time a Black Bear ball found net and the Harvard’s men’s basketball team jeering every time Maine’s shots bounced off the backboard. However, the Crimson’s concentrated effort to throw the Black Bears off its scent failed to prevent Maine from clinging to its lead. For each fourth-quarter field goal Harvard scored, Black Bear guard Dor Saar came back with a pair of successful foul shots, ultimately earning Maine a 67-60 victory over the Crimson.
“[Our play today was] very inconsistent,” Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “I have veterans who were shockingly inconsistent and making freshman mistakes as seniors and juniors. I’d say that I’m pretty disappointed in the consistency of our play today.”
For the women at Lavietes, the first-quarter battle for dominance was defined by momentum, a force that was most certainly not the side of the Crimson. For every successful drive executed by Harvard, the Black Bears seemed to growl back with two field goals of their own. Maine set in stone its penchant for payback when a mid-quarter foul of Black Bear guard Blanca Millan by Crimson captain Madeline Raster was answered with a steal, shot, and score by Millan herself.
However, Raster did not come away from the play unscathed. An apparent leg injury incurred during the foul sent the South Bend, Ind. native to the bench for the remainder of the game, a loss that Delaney-Smith cited as “not easy.”
A second-quarter pep talk by Delaney-Smith seemed to turn the game around for Harvard, who decreased the scoring difference to six by the half. A pair of three-pointers served as third-quarter bookends for the Crimson, a squad revamped from its first-quarter performance. However, fierce mid-game play by Harvard was not enough to take home the victory.
“We did a great job during the second and third quarters, but not so much the first and fourth,” Delaney-Smith said. “I mean, we started slow and we finished slow. In a game, that’s not going to work. In the end, we had a lot of really good shots but they didn’t fall and we didn’t hit our free throws. We had our chances, but overall, [Maine] hit their shots and we didn’t.”
A large segment of Tuesday night’s crowd was made up of high schoolers donning light blue and gray, a signature Black Bear look. However, this squad actually came in support of Harvard freshman guard Maggie McCarthy, a Medfield High School graduate.
“It was awesome [playing in front of my high school team],” McCarthy said. “It brought back a lot of old memories. My sister’s on the team now and my parents were in the stands, so I was lucky to be able to play in this game, but I was definitely ready.”
In spite of the Crimson’s inconsistency, Delaney-Smith described McCarthy as the best defensive player on the floor.
“I think [McCarthy] is going to be a superstar,” Delaney-Smith said. “I decided tonight that as soon as one guard messed up, I was going to go to [McCarthy], and I felt the same about [Tess Sussman]. Those two freshmen have been very consistent day in and day out, so I expect that both of them will step up and play more.”
Perhaps no bleacher-dweller had more confidence in the Crimson than Brighton, Mass., native and official Fan of the Game Quinn Bligh, whose Dorito-stained face and dynamic dance moves adorned the sidelines throughout the game. The three-year old described the Crimson as “playing good” and held out hope for a Harvard victory, even as the women in white were down by six at the half.
Going into the Crimson’s next match against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Delaney-Smith fears that her team’s general inconsistency and the loss of Raster will not help Harvard’s chances.
“Knowing historically who Rutgers is, next game is going to be a tough one,” Delaney-Smith said. “Who knows? I might just have to change the starting lineup and shake things up this weekend.”
Women's Basketball Kicks Off Season Against MaineRarely does a team lose 40 percent of its roster. Rarely does a team have to bring in eight athletes on a 17-player roster. Even more rarely does a team replace half of its coaching staff. For the Harvard women’s basketball team, the offseason was—to say the least—eventful.
Women's Basketball Drops First Game of Season Against MaineDown by 12 entering the fourth quarter of Harvard’s season opener, senior guard Shilpa Tummala shot the lights out in the dwindling minutes of Friday’s matchup against Maine. Scoring 11 of her 17 points in the last eight minutes of the matchup, Tummala’s effort was not enough, as the Crimson fell to the Black Bears, 64-53.
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