Queens, N.Y. - The Harvard women's basketball team held tough in the first 20 minutes of play, but a 62 percent shooting performance from the Red Storm in the second half allowed St. John's to pull away en route to an 83-60 win in the first round of the Women's NIT Friday night at Carnesseca Arena.
A pair of sophomores, Emma Markley and Christine Matera, led the Crimson in scoring with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Five players, including senior Katie Rollins grabbed five rebounds. Emily Tay had 10 points in her final game. It was the first appearance for the Crimson in the Women's NIT.
The Red Storm scored the first two baskets of the game and held an 8-4 lead after three minutes of action. Markley scored the first four points for the Crimson and Tay scored back-to-back baskets to tie the game at 8-8 with 15:47 left on the clock. Markley gave the Crimson its first lead of the game with 14:42 remaining in the first frame. But St. John's quickly regained the lead when Sky Lindsay drained a three just 22 seconds later. After trading the baskets and the lead, the home team scored seven straight to build a 20-16 advantage with 9:16 remaining in the first half.
Sophomore Christina Matera drained a three-pointer in a fastbreak situation for the Crimson and then classmate Claire Wheeler put back a Katie Rollins miss to cut the lead to one, 20-19. St. John's scored on the other end, but Matera sunk her second three of the game to tie the score at 22. Her basket was the first of three straight for the Crimson as Tay used a jumper to give Harvard the lead and Matera hit her third trey of the game to give the visitors a 27-22 lead with a little less than six minutes to play.
After trading basket, the Red Storm used a 6-0 run to close out the first 20 minutes of play and take 32-29 lead into the locker room. Matera led all players with nine points at the half. She went 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. The Crimson shot 40 percent in the first stanza, while St. John's hit 44.1 percent and outrebounded Harvard, 21-19.
The Red Storms run continued in the second session as St. John's scored the first six straight to make it a 12-0 run by the home team. Berry struck first for the Crimson and cut the lead to 38-31. Sophomore Jackie Alemany scored her first points of the game but St. John's used five more points to give the Red Storm its first double digit lead of the game, 45-33. A 17-6 run for the home team over the next five minutes allowed St. John's to take a 62-39 lead with 10:47 remaining in the game. A free throw from Emma Moretzsohn and another Alemany jumper cut the lead to 20 and two minutes later cut the lead to 16 (68-52) when Wheeler and Matera hit back-to-back threes and Rollins nailed a jumper on a pass from Tay. Matera's trey came off a steal on the inbound pass for the Red Storm. St. John's increased its lead to as many as 26 in the final nine minutes of the game.
The Crimson shot 41.3 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from the three. The Red Storm shot 50 percent for the game and outrebounded the Crimson, 47-33.
Harvard finishes the season with a 19-10 overall record. The Crimson went 11-3 in the Ivy League and finished second in the standings.