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Back in the Lineup, Harmoni Turner Sparks Harvard Women’s Basketball to 73-54 Win Over Yale

Led by junior guard Harmoni Turner, Harvard women's basketball defeated Yale 73-54 in the team's Ivy League opener on Saturday.
Led by junior guard Harmoni Turner, Harvard women's basketball defeated Yale 73-54 in the team's Ivy League opener on Saturday. By Owen A. Berger
By Molly R. Malague, Crimson Staff Writer

As tipoff approached at Lavietes Pavilion on Saturday, the crowd was abuzz. The Crimson (8-6, 1-0 Ivy) welcomed its ancient foe, the Yale Bulldogs (3-11, 0-1 Ivy), to what would become a dominant showing for Harvard women’s basketball.

The 73-54 victory over the Bulldogs marked a strong start to the Crimson’s Ivy League campaign and a roaring return for Harvard’s star junior guard Harmoni Turner.

“I feel really great,” said Turner after scoring 28 points in her first game back from a knee injury suffered in early December. “I'm really excited to be back and to play with my teammates.”

The competitive anticipation permeating the stadium before the game proved fleeting, though, as Harvard set the tone for the matchup with a bucket 20 seconds into play. The Crimson led from that moment until the final buzzer.

“Electric,” head coach Carrie Moore said when asked to describe her team’s start to league competition in a post-game interview with NESCN.

In the first six minutes, Turner piled up 10 points, finishing the frame with 12. Her chemistry with sophomore forward Katie Krupa was on full display, with the duo dishing to each other on several early possessions. Krupa netted 12 of her own before the first break, putting Harvard in the lead by 15 points.

The Crimson confidence grew into the second quarter, remaining in control and outscoring Yale 14-11. Turner’s performance was so dominant that it took the entire Yale roster until the final two minutes of the second quarter to tie her in points. Widening the gap to 18, Harvard headed to the locker room with a 38-20 halftime lead.

Despite coming out hot in the first half, the team’s play seemed to stall after the break. There was a lid on Harvard’s basket in the third quarter, as its shooting percentage dropped to just 29%. Even with the lull in scoring, the Crimson hardly gave the Bulldogs an inch, converting Yale’s 20 turnovers into 21 of their own points, stretching the decisive first quarter lead.

Twenty-four fourth quarter points sealed Harvard’s victory. Among the highlights of the game was the defense’s ability to lock down Yale’s leading scorer, senior guard Jenna Clark, holding her to only one basket. The Bulldogs were forced to turn to Grace Thybulle who put up 18 points, and Kiley Capstraw who added 12.

Harvard freshman Abigail Wright shot six for eight from the field, finishing with 12 points in her fifth double-digit performance of the season. “We were all itching to be back in Lavietes in front of our home crowd,” Wright said.

Returning from her injury, Turner was on the floor for just 27 busy minutes, markedly less than what she averages on the season. While Coach Moore may want to ease her back into play, she recognizes Turner’s unslakable desire for competition.

“I took her out a couple more times than I normally do to let her get some rest,” Moore told NESN. No matter what Moore does, though, she knows Turner is “an all-in or nothing type of player.”

“I’m never satisfied with the games that I play… I know that there’s always room for improvement,” Turner stated, echoing her coach’s praise. Underlining her exceptional work ethic, Turner explained that she had already started watching film by day’s end on Saturday, homing in on the aspects of her game that she can improve.

Turner’s return looks poised to deliver an influx to the Crimson squad. “Having Harmoni back adds a completely new level to our team and it is no secret we all missed playing with her,” Wright said.

“I have so much belief in this team,” Turner said. “I’m super excited to continue this journey with them.”

The team’s next test will be conference rival Princeton (11-3, 1-0 Ivy). The Crimson will host the Tigers next Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at Lavietes.

—Staff writer Molly Malague can be reached at molly.malague@thecrimson.com.

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