PRINCETON 61, HARVARD 58
Despite two of the best offenses in the Ivy League going head-to-head, Saturday’s game revolved around the defense. Heading into this matchup, both Harvard and Princeton scored over 73 points a game, but were held to only 58 and 61 respectively this time around.
Senior co-captain Madeline Raster recognized how important the Crimson defensive game plan was in attempting to stop the Princeton offense.
“Princeton has some 3 point shooters and a talented guard/forward,” Raster said. “This means we have to know the scout and not allow those players to be comfortable against our defense”.
Harvard’s defensive plan of limiting the Tigers’ three-point shooters proved effective, as Princeton only had four made triples and shot 33 percent from beyond the arc. The Crimson ended up with more field goals and three-pointers than the Tigers.
Free-throw shooting and points off turnovers proved to be the team’s downfall. Princeton had 13 more free throw attempts than Harvard, and outpaced the Crimson with 18 points off of turnovers as opposed to Harvard’s three.
The game started out with early runs by both teams. The Tigers gained the quick momentum with a 12-4 lead before the Crimson answered back with three consecutive baskets. Harvard only had one triple in the first quarter, indicative of three-point struggles in the game, shooting only 23 percent from outside for the contest.
Princeton closed out the quarter with a quick scoring run to head into the second period with an 18-13 lead. The over 1200 fans in Jadwin Gymnasium that night prevented the Crimson from finding its shooting rhythm as comfortably.
“Sometimes playing away can be tough because you’re playing in another team’s house with their fans in their comfort zone” Raster said.
In the second quarter, Harvard’s defense locked down the Tigers’ scoring attack, holding them to only seven points in the period. A triple from senior guard Sydney Skinner closed the quarter and gave the Crimson a 27-25 lead heading into the half.
To start the half, junior forward Jeanne Boehm scored consecutive baskets, and extended Harvard’s lead to four. Boehm was one of the Crimson’s offensive bright spots of the game, scoring 16 points. The quarter continued to be neck-and-neck, ending with Harvard holding a 44-41 lead.
The Crimson maintained its lead in the opening minutes of the final frame, keeping a 5 point margin on Princeton. The Tigers would come back and tie the game four different times in the quarter before scoring the final two baskets of the game to clinch the victory, 61-58.
PENN 75, HARVARD 70
Friday night’s contest came down to the wire, as Penn outlasted Harvard in a tight overtime contest. For the Quakers, their bench performance and advantage in points in the paint gave them the slight edge they needed to prevail against the Crimson.
For much of the game, the teams engaged in a defensive battle that was emblematic of the pace and style that Penn enjoys. Senior co-captain guard Madeline Raster was cognizant that beating the Quakers’ vaunted zone defense was necessary for Harvard to have a chance.
“Penn usually plays a tough zone,” Raster said. “So we need to play our offense with poise, take advantage of the gaps in their defense, and hit our shots.”
The Crimson started the game with a balanced offensive attack that allowed it to gain early control of the game. The team scored six unanswered points to start the game and had baskets late in the period from Boehm and sophomore forward Rachel Levy.
The team’s variety of scorers at the start of the game was a consistent trade in a contest that saw five different players hit double digit points. The opening period ended with Harvard leading 16-14.
The second quarter was a back-and-forth affair that saw the two team trade the seven first baskets to start the quarter. A late 4-1 run by Penn saw the Quakers take away the Crimson lead and go into the half with a 28-27 lead.
Penn’s control of the third quarter was in large part due to its efficient scoring. The Quakers scored at 56 percent clip and made half of their threes en route to a 24 point quarter. The third period ended with Crimson having a 10 point deficit.
In the final frame, Harvard was able to beat Penn at its own game, playing suffocating defense in order to comeback and bring the game to overtime. With less than three minutes remaining in regulation, the Quakers regained the lead with pair of late free throws. On the final possession of the game, Bush grabbed a rebound and put in a basket with 0.6 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime.
In the overtime period, Penn was able to jump to an early advantage and pulled away when it extended its lead to eight. Senior co-captain guard Sydney Skinner cut the deficit with back-to-back triples, but the Quakers scored late free throws to clinch the victory 75-70.
— Staff writer Mahtab Shihab can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.