Curtis Lifts Women's Basketball to 67-63 Win Over EMU at the Line
Curtis has recorded a career-high in points in two straight games (Gil Talbot).
YPSILANTI, Mich. – Sophomore Ali Curtis stepped to the line with 0:06 remaining in a two-point game and calmly hit both free throws to give the Harvard women's basketball team a 67-63 win Saturday afternoon at Eastern Michigan.
Curtis finished with a career-high nine points, two rebounds and two steals while playing a career-best 32 minutes. Christine Clark led the Crimson in scoring for a sixth-straight game with 16 points and added five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Temi Fagbenle chipped in a career-high 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting with six rebounds as Miriam Rutzen registered a season-best 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
Harvard (4-2) outshot the Eastern Michigan (1-4) 46.9 percent (23-49) to 33.3 percent (24-72) and held a 42-36 advantage over the Eagles on the glass. EMU was led by Olivia Fouty's 20-point, eight-rebound effort.
Harvard got off to a hot start for the second straight game and shot 6-of-7 from the floor to open a 12-2 lead less than three minutes in. Rutzen began the scoring with an easy bucket in the paint and Fagbenle added six points before the run was through. The Crimson kept the pressure on and pushed its lead to 16-4 with two more Fagbenle baskets, and after a pair at the line by the sophomore Harvard held an 18-4 edge with 15:19 remaining in the half.
Harvard improved its advantage to 26-8 as it held Eastern Michigan scoreless for an eight-minute stretch, forcing four turnovers and recording three blocks. Back-to-back layups from Rutzen and Elise Gordon made it a 20-point game, 34-14, but a 5-0 run by the Eagles to close the half moved the score to 34-19 at the break.
Fagbenle led all scorers with 12 first-half points on 5-of-5 shooting. The Crimson shot 48.3 percent (14-29) from the floor as a team and held a 28-14 advantage in points in the paint. Defensively, three blocks by Rutzen and three Clark steals helped to limit EMU to just 22.9 percent (8-35) shooting.
The Eagles outscored Harvard 20-11 to open the second half and cut their deficit to just seven, 45-38, with 11:37 to play. Emma Golen pushed the lead back to double-digits with Harvard's first three-pointer of the afternoon, 48-38, and after free throws from Clark and a layup by Rutzen the Crimson were on top by 14, 52-38. EMU scored the game's next five points, however, pulling to within nine, 52-43.
The Eagles continued to hang tough and trailed by just six, 59-53, after Miranda Tate's and-one. A pair of Curtis free throws extended it to a 61-53 lead but India Hairston connected on a three at the other end to make it a five-point game, 61-56, with 2:45 remaining.
With Harvard up 63-56 after a Rutzen bucket, EMU scored five straight points and pulled within one score, 63-61, with just 1:13 to play. The Crimson went to Clark with the game on the line and the junior delivered, hitting a runner in the lane to push the score to 65-61 with 0:23 on the clock. The Eagles rushed down the court and scored quickly to make it a two-point game again, 65-63, but Curtis sank both her free throws to give Harvard the final 67-63 margin.
Harvard will be back in action Wednesday, Nov. 28 as it hosts New Hampshire at 7 p.m. at Lavietes Pavilion.
Game Notes: Harvard improved to 4-2 to start the season for the third time in the last five seasons … Christine Clark has led the Crimson in scoring in all six games to start the season, the first to do so since Hana Peltjo in 2002-03 … Christine Clark went 6-of-6 at the line Saturday night to improve to 19-of-19 on the year, and has made 41-of-42 free throws dating back to last season … Ali Curtis has scored more points in the last two games (16) than in her previous 10 appearances combined (11).