The Crimson finished the year 11-0 at home and has won seven straight (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard women's basketball team closed out the regular season in style Tuesday night, defeating Columbia 71-26 to finish unbeaten at home and reach the 20-win plateau.
Harvard's victory improves the Crimson to 20-8 overall and 11-3 in the Ivy League, marking the program's 10th 20-win season under head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. The victory is also the Crimson's 14th straight at home, tying the team for the seventh longest home win streak in the country, and gives Harvard its first unbeaten season at home since 1997-98.
Harvard also made history at the defensive end of the court as its 26 points allowed stand as the fewest ever during Delaney-Smith's 31-year tenure, and are the fewest given up since Feb. 24, 1978 when the Crimson defeated Holy Cross, 73-19. Harvard's 45-point margin of victory is its largest since a 94-47 win at Central Connecticut State on Dec. 3, 2003.
Victoria Lippert scored a game-high 14 points to go with seven rebounds and two assists. Christine Clark chipped in 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting as Elle Hagedorn contributed a season-best 10 points and four steals. Harvard combined to shoot 49.1 percent (27-55) for the game while going 9-of-19 from deep.
Columbia (5-23, 3-11) was held to just 20.4 percent (10-49) shooting from the floor and was 2-of-10 from the charity stripe. Harvard dominated the game in the paint, outrebounding the Lions 46-25 while holding a 26-8 advantage in points in the paint. The Crimson also scored 26 points off 21 Columbia turnovers.
After a slow start to the game, Harvard exploded on a 15-0 run to take a 19-4 lead. Clark scored four straight points to begin the stretch, and was followed by back-to-back three-pointers from Erin McDonnell. A Melissa Mullins jumper made it a 16-4 game before Jasmine Evans' three capped the run off with 7:26 to play.
Miwa Tachibana cut Columbia's deficit to 11 points, 21-10, but the Crimson closed the half with a 9-3 stretch to take a 30-13 margin into the break. Evans scored five straight points during the spurt, including her second three-pointer, and Clark finished it off with a jumper in the paint.
Evans led all scorers at intermission with eight points on 3-of-3 shooting. Clark and McDonnell each added six points as Harvard combined to shoot 50.0 percent (11-22) from the field and 4-of-6 from three. The Lions were held to just 22.7 percent (5-22) shooting thanks in part to nine steals by the Crimson, with Hagedorn's three leading the way.
The teams combined for just two points through the first four-plus minutes of the second half until a Lippert jumper sparked a 14-0 run over a 2:11 span. The first 12 points of the stretch were scored by Lippert and Clark, with Hagedorn adding a layup in transition to make it a 46-13 game. Following a Taylor Ward three-pointer, Harvard scored 10 straight to push the run to 24-3 and put the lead at 40 points, 56-16.
Harvard will now await its WNIT fate as the 64-team field is set to be announced Monday, March 18.
Game Notes: Harvard extended its home winning streak to 14 games, the seventh longest in the NCAA … The Crimson finished a perfect 11-0 at Lavietes Pavilion in 2012-13, its first unbeaten season at home since 1997-98 … Harvard's 45-point margin of victory is its largest since defeating Central Connecticut State by 47 points, 94-47, on Dec. 3, 2003 … The Crimson's 26 points allowed are the fewest ever under head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith and the fewest allowed since Feb. 24, 1978 when the team won at Holy Cross, 73-19 … Harvard improves to 20-8 overall with the victory, its 10th 20-win season under head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith.