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Harvard Women’s Basketball Stumbles in Second Half, Splits Season Series with Princeton

Senior guards McKenzie Forbes and Maggie McCarthy line up at Harvard's 2021 game against Merrimack, in which the Crimson defeated Warriors 99-75. Harvard recently fell to Princeton 51-47 but will take on Dartmouth this weekend before competing in the Ivy Madness Tournament from March 10-12.
Senior guards McKenzie Forbes and Maggie McCarthy line up at Harvard's 2021 game against Merrimack, in which the Crimson defeated Warriors 99-75. Harvard recently fell to Princeton 51-47 but will take on Dartmouth this weekend before competing in the Ivy Madness Tournament from March 10-12. By Owen A. Berger
By Molly R. Malague, Contributing Writer

Princeton (20-5 overall, 11-2 Ivy League) reasserted its dominance after a 10-point Harvard (15-10, 8-5 Ivy League) lead vanished on Friday night at Princeton’s Jadwin Gym. The Tigers thundered back to beat Harvard 51-47 for a senior night win.

“Our team did a great job of focusing on only ourselves, and not everyone else in that gym,” first-year forward Katie Krupa said.

With this focus on playing above the buzz mounting in the arena, the Crimson took the floor ready to play and came out firing on all cylinders. It scored off the tip and earned a stop on Princeton’s first possession. The team shot 50% from the field in the first frame, and by the end of the quarter, Harvard held the lead, 14-12.

Its play in quarter two continued to display both the Crimson’s depth and defensive prowess. Five players — sophomores Elena Rodriguez and Harmoni Turner, senior McKenzie Forbes, and freshmen Saniyah Glenn-Bello and Krupa — provided the scoring.

On the defensive end, Princeton only mustered eight points across the ten minutes. All eight were scored by one player: Kaitlyn Chen.

Chen proved the spark plug for the Tigers all game, netting 18 points and bringing intensity and toughness for 35 minutes. Her quickness off the dribble and creative cuts through the lane were all but unstoppable from the tip to the last buzzer.

“That's what fuels us every single game,” said Chen regarding her squad’s team defense.

Princeton seniors Grace Stone, Julia Cunningham, and Ellie Mitchell consistently backed Chen up with strong play and good looks at the hoop.

Stone stepped up with seven points to launch her team to a 15-9 third-quarter run, a momentum shift that proved fatal for the Crimson.

“We had control of the game for the first 37 minutes of the game,” Krupa said. “The last three minutes got away from us.”

Harvard was rattled down the stretch, and their shot selection and percentage suffered as a result. It netted only 27% from the field for the final quarter; when Chen tied the game with a jumper with 2:15 remaining, the Crimson had no answer.

On paper, the matchup did not necessarily promise a thriller. Princeton was riding eleven straight wins, playing on their home floor in front of 1700 fans, and sitting pretty atop the Ivy League standings. Nonetheless, the Crimson took the floor with palpable pride and enthusiasm, buoyed by its previous showdown with the Tigers on New Year's Eve in Lavietes Pavilion.

In that first matchup of the season with Princeton, Harvard pulled off an extraordinary upset of the Ivy League powerhouse. The Tigers had put together a string of seasons that left the loss column practically empty, but the Crimson snapped their streak of 42 straight conference wins. It was an exciting start to the first season under head coach Carrie Moore, who worked as a part of the Princeton coaching staff as recently as 2019. Moore has led Harvard to a solid 8-3 record in conference play, improving on last season’s seven regular season Ivy League wins.

“Coach always says we have inches…we are just inches away and we need to make those strides,” Krupa commented.

Harvard won’t have to wait much longer to stride toward a rebound. They will host Dartmouth (2-25, 0-13) this Saturday at 4:00 p.m. The team will celebrate its seniors as they take the floor in Lavietes Pavilion one last time.

Harvard will start its Ivy Madness tournament run on Friday, March 10 at Jadwin Gym.

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