Women's Basketball Clinches WNIT Bid with 65-59 Win Over Cornell

Women's Basketball Clinches WNIT Bid with 65-59 Win Over Cornell

Harvard clinches the Ivy League's WNIT bid with a 65-59 win over Cornell (OAC).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A trio of underclassmen led the way on Senior Night as the Harvard women's basketball team defeated Cornell, 65-59, Saturday at Lavietes Pavilion to clinch second place in the Ivy League and the conference's automatic bid to the WNIT.

Harvard entered the game one-half game ahead of Yale for second place in the conference standings, and secured second place by virtue of its win and Yale's 61-58 loss at home to Penn. As a result, Harvard has earned the Ivy League's automatic bid to the WNIT, marking the third time in the last four years the Crimson will have played in the postseason tournament.

Emma Golen matched her career-high with 15 points as she hit 4-of-7 from three-point range and pulled down seven rebounds. Miriam Rutzen recorded her second double-double of the year with 12 points and 11 rebounds, including seven at the offensive end, and Christine Clark scored 13 points to go along with her seven rebounds.

Harvard (16-11, 9-4 Ivy League) shot 40.0 percent for the game and outrebounded Cornell by a 43-31 margin. The Crimson scored 32 points in the paint and converted 20 offensive rebounds into 16 second-chance points.

The Big Red (11-16, 5-8 Ivy League) was led by Clare Fitzpatrick's 15 points and Taylor Flynn's 12. Cornell shot 37.0 percent from the floor and was 16-of-20 from the line.

It was a fitting start to the game as Lindsay Louie, making her first career start on Senior Night, hit a three-pointer for a 3-0 Crimson lead. Clark gave Harvard a 5-0 advantage, and Golen put the Crimson on top 10-4 with a three from the top of the key. Rutzen and Victoria Lippert made it a 14-4 run to open the game as Harvard hit six of its first ten shots while holding Cornell to 1-of-8 shooting.

The Big Red pulled to within 17-11 off a Taylor Flynn three but the Crimson answered back with an Elle Hagedorn hook shot and Golen's third three-pointer of the frame for a 22-11 advantage with 8:00 remaining. Cornell managed to cut its deficit to seven points at the half, 29-22, with a 7-2 run over the final 4:07. Golen led all scorers at the break with 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. Clark added seven points and seven boards as the Crimson outrebounded the Big Red by a 24-10 margin.

The game turned into a track meet in the second half as the teams raced up and down the court trading baskets. A Spencer Lane layup pulled Cornell within 33-27, but Rutzen beat the defense back down the court for a layup of her own and a 35-27 lead. A 7-0 run put Harvard up 44-31 with 12:31 to play, before a 7-2 stretch put the Big Red right back in it, 46-38.

Trailing 50-40, Cornell scored five straight points to pull within five, 50-45, forcing a Harvard timeout. Rutzen scored coming out of the break to briefly halt the Big Red run, but a Lane jumper and a pair of free throws by DiMagno made it a 52-49 game with 5:34 remaining. The Crimson responded with a layup by Clark and a Lippert three to push the lead to 57-49.

DiMagno's three-pointer with 1:16 on the clock made it a four-point game, 57-53, but Brogan Berry hit a pull-up jumper on the ensuing possession to push the margin back to six. After two more DiMagno free throws the lead stood at 59-55 with just 0:29 remaining, forcing Cornell to put Berry at the line. The conference leader in free throw percentage missed the front end of the one-and-one, but Rutzen was there to clean up on the offensive glass and hit a pair of free throws herself to move the score to 61-55. Clark hit four free throws in the final 14 seconds to seal the victory, 65-59.

Harvard will close out its regular season Tuesday, March 6 against Dartmouth at 7 p.m. at Lavietes Pavilion.

Game Notes: Harvard's win, coupled with Yale's 61-58 loss to Penn, clinches second place in the Ivy League for the Crimson and the conference's automatic bid to the WNIT … Harvard will be making its third appearance in the postseason tournament in the last four years … Miriam Rutzen recorded her second double-double of the year with 12 points and 11 rebounds … Emma Golen matched her career-high with 15 points and four three-pointers … Harvard honored its two graduating seniors, Brogan Berry and Lindsay Louie, prior to the game with a Senior Night ceremony … Lindsay Louie earned her first career start.