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Following a dominant performance against the Penn Quakers last weekend, the Crimson (11-7, 4-1 Ivy) continued its winning streak in New Haven on Saturday afternoon, securing a victory against the Yale Bulldogs (4-14 NCAA, 1-4 Ivy) by a final score of 61-52.
The two rivals had previously faced off on Jan. 6th, resulting in a commanding Harvard win, 73-54. Although Saturday’s game was a markedly tighter contest, the Crimson continued its success in Ivy League play. After the win, Harvard now boasts a season record of 11-7 and a conference record of 4-1 — marking its best start of in-league play since the 2017-18 season.
The Crimson’s triumph was supported by standout offensive performances from junior Harmoni Turner and senior Lola Mullaney. Turner, maintaining her point-scoring hot streak, notched an impressive 24 points while Mullaney secured 13. Their success was backed by junior guard Elena Rodriguez, who scored 11 points of her own and came down with an impressive 13 rebounds.
Harvard also dominated the defensive game, holding the Bulldogs to just a 32.7% shooting rate. Throughout the contest, the Crimson only gave up one three-pointer, keeping Yale to a paltry 14.3% rate from behind the three-point arc.
That being said, Harvard was only up 32-26 at the halftime mark. Despite managing to secure the win, the Crimson faced continuous shooting trouble throughout the game. Yale outscored Harvard in both the second and third quarters of the game, forcing the Crimson to fiercely battle through the entirety of the fourth quarter.
“We knew that we were not hitting shots we normally do,” Mullaney said. “However, we remained calm and confident, knowing that if we kept fighting we would be able to come out with a win.”
Harvard is currently tied with Brown and Columbia for second place in the Ivy League. In order to secure a spot in the upcoming Ivy League Tournament, the Crimson must be ranked within the top four spots. Harvard faces a challenging schedule ahead, full of away games and tough inter-league opponents. Yet the Crimson’s success has not seemed to falter when away from Cambridge, even when deep in enemy territory.
“Our early non-conference games really prepared us for our away games in Ivy play,” Mullaney said, giving context to the team's gritty 6-5 record on the road. “I think loud gyms or long bus rides can be a challenge, but every team does it so we know we can too.”
This persistence is a major asset for the Crimson, which travels down to New York to play crucial games against Columbia and Cornell this weekend. As the season continues, the Crimson hopes to maintain its successful record and prepare for a deep run in the playoffs.
“This win was big for us, especially since it was against our rival,” Mullaney said. “We are off to a great start, and this really helped continue our momentum heading into our first back-to-back weekend against two very solid teams.”
Fans can tune in to ESPN+ on Friday, Feb. 2 at 7:00 pm EST to watch the Crimson continue their Ivy League play against the Columbia Lions at Schiller Court at Levien Gymnasium.
—Staff writer Isabel Smail can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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