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Women’s Basketball Upsets Penn in 2OT After Falling Short Against Princeton

{shortcode-fea9d3294e05c77cfe09b908910ca94f1b3283f3}Returning to Lavietes Pavilion after a five game road stretch, Harvard (12-9, 5-3 Ivy) started its weekend home split with a disappointing loss to Princeton (13-9, 5-2 Ivy) that allowed the Tigers to overtake the Crimson in the conference standings. Harvard bounced back in thrilling fashion by upsetting Penn (16-4, 6-1 Ivy) in double overtime the following night.

HARVARD 80, PENN 72

In front of sold-out home crowd, the Crimson played some of its best basketball this season to hand the Quakers their first conference loss of the season.

The Quakers came into this matchup with a suffocating defensive game plan that had only allowed 50 points per game. For Harvard to come away with a victory, it was critical for them to match Penn’s stalwart defense and excel at one of their greatest strengths: rebounding.

“Our mentality was more about what we were going to do on the defensive end and rebounding,” sophomore forward Jadyn Bush said. “Tonight was a team effort on the boards, boxing out, and letting our guards get those boards. Punching first on the defensive end, really paid off tonight.”

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The game was a methodical defensive battle at the start, with the Quakers holding the Crimson to only four points in the first six minutes. The tempo was slow and both teams were aggressive on the boards.

The momentum quickly began to favor Harvard when it rained in a barrage of triples late in the quarter. Threes from junior guards Mackenzie Barta and Katie Benzan, along with a late triple from co-captain guard Madeline Raster allowed Harvard to build a 16-12 lead through the opening period of play.

Katie Benzan set the tone for the Crimson in the second quarter, ending a Harvard scoring drought in the second period with a pull-up triple. The Crimson proceeded to score three unanswered baskets to take a 26-22 lead.

Harvard continued its aggressive attack against the vaunted Penn defense. Senior guard Sydney Skinner hit a late triple and Jadyn Bush scored four consecutive points, including a basket that came off a no-look pass from Katie Benzan. This late run had the Crimson up 33-29 at the half.

Harvard extended its lead to double digits at the start of the third quarter going up 41-31. The Quakers went on a run late in the period to cut the deficit to one heading into the final frame.

In the final quarter, Penn retook the lead and heightened its defensive play, allowing only four points through the first nine minutes. With 25 seconds left to play, Jadyn Bush drew a foul and knocked down two clutch free throws to tie the game.

“Free throws have been a big emphasis in practice,” Bush said. “I think that hammering in those drills I could shoot those free throws like I do every day in practice.”

In the overtime period, Coach Delaney-Smith made the requisite offensive adjustments to tire Penn’s defense.

“We changed offenses a lot; we were trying to find what the holes were,”Delaney-Smith said. “We were trying to do some screening on the zone, and Penn was more tired than we were.”

After a tightly contested first overtime, the Crimson pulled away in the second overtime period to come away with a 80-72 victory.{shortcode-7bbe0ba8b5c2479b38f080b0dd78bde87a6001ab}

PRINCETON 75, HARVARD 71

In a down-to-the-wire matchup, Princeton defeated Harvard because of extended runs in the second and third quarter that became too much for the Crimson to answer.

Harvard started the game with strong offensive play and matched any scoring run the Tigers went on. Co-captain guard Madeline Raster was the key to the Crimson’s early scoring success. The Indiana native led Harvard in both scoring and assists this game, having four of her team-high six assists in the first period.

Princeton would take back the momentum in the second quarter, starting the period on an 11-2 run that would give them a four point lead. The Tiger’s bench play was integral to their offensive rhythm in this quarter.

“Some of their bench players hurt us which was an unfortunate turning point,” Delaney-Smith said. “They did some things which we shouldn’t have left them do.”

Princeton held the Crimson to only 12 points in the second quarter, and went into the half with a 38-33 lead. They continued to play aggressive offensively and stifle the Harvard scoring attack to start the half. The Tiger’s dominant play at the outset of the third quarter incited a 12-2 run that gave them a 15 point lead midway through the period.

“They were switching off screens and getting in the passing lanes,” Delaney-Smith said. “We were playing sloppy. We can’t have 19 turnovers and beat the best teams in our league”{shortcode-1e46d61f0b952727b53fd728401afd3f9b4444c2}

Harvard started cutting down the Princeton lead late in the third quarter because of strong ball movement and minimal turnovers. The team headed into the final frame with a single-digit deficit.

The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth affair that saw Princeton maintain their lead for the entirety of the period. The Crimson had a chance to comeback down five with just under a minute left.

Madeline Raster hit back-to-back threes to get the Crimson within two, but missed the potential game-tying shot during the closing seconds of the game. Two late free throws sealed the game, and Harvard’s comeback attempt fell short.

“I was proud of our comeback,” Delaney-Smith said.“I think we move forward and ix things we need to work on. It’s always a work in progress.”

— Staff writer Mahtab Shihab can be reached at mahtab.shihab@thecrimson.com.

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