Record-Setting Night at the Line Propels Women's Basketball to Win at Columbia

The team celebrates following its 63-56 win over St. John's (Gil Talbot).
The team celebrates following its 63-56 win over St. John's (Gil Talbot).

Harvard was a perfect 21-of-21 at the line en route to its fifth-straight road win.

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Harvard women's basketball team rode a record-setting performance at the free-throw line to a 68-56 win at Columbia Saturday night, the team's fifth straight on the road.

The Crimson (11-8, 4-1 Ivy League) was a perfect 21-of-21 from the charity stripe, tying the program record for free-throw percentage in a single game and marking the first time the team has been perfect on more than 15 attempts. Christine Clark, meanwhile, matched Reka Cserny '05 for the best individual performance at the line with a 12-of-12 showing.

Clark finished her night with 21 points, becoming the first Crimson to score 20-plus in consecutive games since Victoria Lippert did so in four straight games in February of 2010.

Lippert added 19 points to the scoring effort while Elle Hagedorn chipped in 11 off the bench. Harvard combined to shoot just 37.7 percent for the game but was aided by seven three-pointers and its 21 points from the line. Columbia (2-17, 0-5 Ivy League) was led by Courtney Bradford's 17 points and Tyler Simpson's 15.

Harvard jumped out to a 5-0 lead and was on top 12-9 following Lippert's second three of the evening, but Columbia bounced back with three straight baskets to take a 15-12 advantage. Tyler Simpson hit 1-of-2 at the line to move the score to 16-12 before Lippert ended the Crimson's drought with a nice cut to the bucket. Clark's 15-footer tied the score at 16 and a layup by Emma Golen evened the game at 18 with 8:15 to play.

Hagedorn put Harvard back in front with a three-pointer and following a pair of Miriam Rutzen free throws, the Crimson led 23-18. Columbia rallied once again and retied the score at 23 on a Courtney Bradford drive, but the momentum swung back in Harvard's favor as the Crimson closed the half on a 9-0 run. Clark sparked the run with a three of her own, and Golen made back-to-back layups for a seven-point edge. Clark added a pair of free throws with 3 seconds remaining, giving Harvard a 32-23 advantage at the half.

Clark netted 11 points in the frame while going 6-of-6 at the free-throw line, and Lippert added 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting. The Crimson shot just 33.3 percent in the half but was a perfect 10-of-10 at the line and hit four three-pointers while holding the Lions to 37.0 percent shooting.

Columbia opened the second half on a 14-5 run and knotted the game up at 37 on a deep three by Melissa Shafer. Taylor Ward began the run with a three-pointer on the Lions first possession, and Bradford's three-point play cut the Lions' deficit to 35-34. Clark scored a layup to make it a three-point game in Harvard's favor but Shafer hit her three on the ensuing possession to even the score.

Hagedorn followed a pair of Lippert free throws with her second trey to put the Crimson back on top by five, 42-37, and added an and-one for a 47-41 advantage with 10:36 remaining. Four straight free throws from Clark moved the score to 53-41 and Lippert added a basket in the paint to make it an 18-4 run and give Harvard a 14-point advantage, 55-41.

Harvard's lead did not dip below 10 points for the remainder of the game as the Crimson hung on for the 68-56 victory.

Harvard will return home next weekend to host Penn and Princeton. The Crimson will first face the Quakers Friday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. before welcoming the Tigers into Lavietes Pavilion Saturday, Feb. 11 at 6 p.m.

Game Notes: Harvard went 21-of-21 at the line, tying the program record for free-throw percentage in a game and marking the first time the Crimson have been perfect on more than 15 attempts in a game … Christine Clark went 12-of-12 at the free-throw line, tying Reka Cserny '05 for the best single-game performance in program history … Christine Clark has scored 20-plus points in back-to-back games, becoming the first Crimson to do so since Victoria Lippert scored 20-plus in four straight in February of 2010 … The win is Harvard's fifth straight on the road, marking the team's longest road win streak since February of 2010 … Harvard has recorded 299 wins in Ivy League play, and will soon become just the second program in Ancient Eight history to reach 300.