It seems appropriate that the Harvard women’s basketball team watched Bruce Almighty on the bus ride home after trouncing the Central Connecticut Blue Devils 94-47.
Led by the 26 points notched by co-captain forward Hana Peljto, the Crimson (3-2) pushed the century mark while doubling up its helpless opponent and scoring the most points as a squad since February 21, 1998, when it defeated Penn 98-63.
Harvard used aggressive defense, highlighted by the team’s 20 steals, to limit Central’s top scorer Kim Boone to just nine points.
The Blue Devils (1-3) shot just 33.3 percent from the floor, while the Crimson knocked down 63.9 percent of its attempts.
The game began innocuously enough, with the score tied at four with 18:41 remaining in the first half. But the hoop swapping ended early as a Peltjo layup triggered an 11-2 run over the next four minutes that put Central down for good.
Senior point guard Bev Moore crowned the Crimson’s rush to the lead with a three-pointer at 15:14.
Though Harvard held a 22-point advantage, 37-15, with just over five minutes remaining in the first half, the Blue Devils scored five of the last seven points of the frame to go into the locker room down 42-24. However, that gap would widen once again as the Crimson began the second half with a 16-0 run, 10 of which came from Peljto who scored the final eight points on two turnovers and a pair of missed shots on the defensive end.
It took over five minutes for Central to make a mark on the scoreboard in the second half, when Maria Babaeva scored on a jumper at 14:52, making the score 58-26.
Harvard buffed out the Blue Devils’ nick in the lead with a 12-0 run, ending with a trey by sophomore Shana Franklin, who scored a career-high 14 points on the night. Sophomore guard Jess Holsey also notched double-digits with 13 points.
Franklin was one of many contributors off the bench, as every player saw at least 10 minutes on the floor, and regular workhorses Peltjo and junior center Reka Cserny played just 20 and 21 minutes respectively.
Junior guard Katie Murphy also swiped five steals and registered a career-high six assists of Harvard’s 28 in 19 minutes.
“I think it’s a very big game for us,” co-captain forward Tricia Tubridy said. “It was a mid-week game and historically, it’s a game that we really haven’t played well. Everyone on the bench got time and the intensity never dropped off.”
Both Franklin and Tubridy noted that one of the highlights of the game was seeing the freshmen, Christiana Lackner and Kyle Dalton play, each of whom scored six points in 10 minutes on the floor.
“At the end, both freshmen came on…they stepped up and hit their shots and played really well,” Franklin said.
Harvard responded to one concern raised after its 96-82 loss to Florida St. last Sunday, in which the Crimson was outrebounded 33-18. Against the Blue Devils, Harvard intended to box out early, and did.