Women's Basketball Takes 63-56 Victory Over St. John's at Lavietes Pavilion

Brogan Berry charges up the court in the team's 63-56 win over St. John's (Gil Talbot). Buy Now
Brogan Berry charges up the court in the team's 63-56 win over St. John's (Gil Talbot).

The Crimson improves to 3-1 at Lavietes Pavilion with its 63-56 win over St. John's (Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Four Crimson scored a dozen points as the Harvard women's basketball team picked up a 63-56 win over St. John's Thursday afternoon in Lavietes Pavilion. The victory is the team's first over a BIG EAST opponent in exactly eight years, following a 73-59 win at Providence on Dec. 22, 2003.

Brogan Berry, Christine Clark, Emma Golen and Victoria Lippert each scored 12 points to lead a Harvard (5-5) squad which shot 17-of-20 at the line. Clark also led the team with nine rebounds and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the charity stripe. Golen and Miriam Rutzen pulled down seven boards apiece, while Berry and Rutzen dished out five assists.

Harvard held a 42-37 edge over St. John's (7-6) on the glass and made 17 free throws to the Red Storm's seven. The Crimson shot just 37.5 percent for the game but turned in a strong defensive effort, limiting St. John's to 35.5 percent shooting while forcing 13 turnovers and blocking a season-high seven shots.

Eugeneia McPherson's 14 points led the Red Storm as Amber Thompson turned in a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

The Crimson opened the game on fire, hitting 5-of-6 from the field, including two threes, for a 14-4 lead less than five minutes in. Berry sparked the run with a drive on Harvard's first possession and later found Lippert in transition for a 5-2 lead. Four straight points by Miriam Rutzen put the Crimson in front 9-4 and a Golen three from the top of the key made it a 10-point game.

St. John's pulled to within six, 18-12, but Harvard responded at the other end with a basket by Lippert. Berry went coast-to-coast on the next possession to regain the double-digit margin, 22-12, and Emma Golen gave Harvard an 11-point edge with a three from the right wing, 25-14.

The Red Storm used a 10-0 run over a three-plus minute span to pull within one, 27-26, with 3:05 remaining. Lippert ended Harvard's drought with a three from the left corner and a strong defensive stand before the buzzer gave the Crimson a 32-29 lead at the half. Lippert led all scorers with 10 points at the break as both Berry and Golen added six. The Crimson shot a combined 44.4 percent from the field compared to 41.4 percent from St. John's, and held a slight 18-16 advantage on the glass.

Scoring was at a premium early in the second half until four straight points by Christine Clark pushed the score to 38-31. Back-to-back baskets by Berry and Rutzen made it a 42-33 game and with 10:11 to play, Golen finished strong at the basket to regain an 11-point margin, 50-39.

The teams traded baskets for the next several minutes and with 4:45 remaining the score stood at 56-47 in Harvard's favor. Mary Nwachukwu's layup with 2:48 on the clock pulled the Red Storm to within seven, and with just 1:50 to go Da'Shena Stevens converted a three-point play to cut the deficit to four, 56-52. Clark hit a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession but St. John's responded again and made it a 59-56 game on Shenneika Smith's put back with 0:46 to play. Berry and Clark iced the game at the line, however, going 4-of-4 in the final 21 seconds to preserve the 63-56 victory.

Harvard will now head out on a four-game road trip beginning next Thursday, Dec. 29 at Hartford at 7 p.m.

GAME NOTES: Harvard's victory is its first over a BIG EAST opponent in exactly eight years, following a 73-59 win at Providence on Dec. 22, 2003 … The victory is also Harvard's first over a BIG EAST opponent in Lavietes Pavilion since a 79-76 defeat of Syracuse on Nov. 22, 2002, and improves the team to 6-22 all-time against the conference … Harvard improves to 33-7 at Lavietes Pavilion since 2008-09 … The Crimson blocked a season-high seven shots vs. St. John's including a career-high three from Missy Mullins and two from Emma Golen … Christine Clark has scored in double-digits in 12 straight games dating back to last season.