In its first Ivy League road trip of the conference schedule, the top two teams of the Ancient Eight proved too much for Harvard women’s basketball. The Crimson’s win streak was snapped at six with a pair of losses at Princeton and Penn this weekend.
The Tigers (16-4, 6-1 Ivy) and the Quakers (15-5, 6-1) are tied atop the Ivy League following lopsided wins over Harvard (13-8, 5-3). The Crimson fell to third place in the Ancient Eight upon the conclusion of its road trip. In its worst offensive weekend of the season, Harvard shot just 29.4 percent from the field in its two games against the top two defenses in the conference.
“It was completely unexpected,” coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “I thought we were much more ready to play both of those teams.”
PENN 69, HARVARD 49
Due to an uncharacteristically, offensively slow first quarter, the Crimson was unable to mount a comeback from the early deficit. Harvard scored just 10 points in the first quarter and 11 points in the second, compared to Penn’s 25 and 20, respectively.
The Quakers’ explosive start was thanks to a hefty 14-0 run. After sophomore forward Jeannie Boehm hit a layup to start the game, Penn took control and refused to look back. The Crimson’s early 2-0 lead would be its only of the weekend, lasting 53 seconds.
Harvard eventually stopped the run with a three-pointer from sophomore guard Katie Benzan. Benzan would finish the game with 14 points, the only Crimson player to hit double digits. By that point, the damage had been done. Another explosive quarter for the Quakers made the score 45-21 at the end of the first half.
Harvard made up some ground in the fourth quarter thanks to four three pointers, two of which came from junior guard Kelsey Bogdan, but the game already out of hand. Bogdan finished the game with nine points, all on her trifecta of three-pointers, both career highs.
For the Crimson, early season issues reared their ugly heads for the first time in awhile. Harvard committed 22 turnovers in the game. In addition, the Crimson shot only 31 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from the free-throw line.
PRINCETON 80, HARVARD 47
Slow starts proved the key weakness for Harvard this weekend, as the Crimson never even took the lead against Princeton.
“For us to start both of the games with an extraordinary amount of turnovers is perplexing and I’m not sure how it happened,” Delaney-Smith said.
The Tigers took total control of the contest in the third quarter, quickly starting off the second half with explosiveness. Princeton started off the quarter with a 17-2 run, effectively burying Harvard into a hole that was too hard to escape. By the time freshman forward Jadyn Bush helped break the run with free-throws with 4:36 left in the third quarter, the Tigers were leading 55-31.
Princeton had a 14-0 run of its own. The Crimson had kept the game close for the first seven minutes of the contest, with the score 11-7 with 2:07 left to play in the first. The Tigers quickly responded with a three-pointer and carried the momentum well into the second quarter. Harvard responded with a quick 8-0 run of its own, of which junior co-captain Madeline Raster was responsible for five points.
Princeton would respond to make the game 38-25 with just six seconds left in the half. Raster once again worked her buzzer-beater magic to put a jumper through the net as the time expired, making the game 38-27 at the half.
The Tigers would take its largest lead of the contest of 35 points with 7:52 left to play in the game, and the Crimson spent the rest of the contest trading baskets with Princeton.
When the final buzzer sounded, Harvard had accumulated just 47 points, its worst offensive outing of the season. This was due in most part to shooting a mere 27.9 percent from the field against the tenacious Tiger defense.
“We have to figure out how to put it behind us and make whatever corrections we need to make and move forward,” Delaney-Smith said.
—Staff writer Joseph W. Minatel can be reached at email@example.com.
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