Late Rally Not Enough as Women’s Basketball Drops 81-76 Decision at St. John’s

Late Rally Not Enough as Women’s Basketball Drops 81-76 Decision at St. John’s

Temi Fagbenle's 20 points would not be enough as Harvard fell to St. John's, 81-76. 

NEW YORK – Despite a season-high 20 points from junior forward Temi Fagbenle, Harvard women's basketball saw its six-game win streak halted at St. John's, 81-76, Sunday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena.

The Crimson (6-2) had four players register double-figures, led by Fagbenle who added eight rebounds and two assists. Senior captain Christine Clark posted 12 points and seven rebounds, while Elise Gordon (11 points, eight rebounds) and Erin McDonnell (10 points) rounded out the quartet.

St. John's (5-1) was led by Aliyyah Handford with 25 points. Aaliyah Lewis hit 5-of-5 from behind the arc, adding 19 points, five assists and five steals.

St. John's took an early 10-7 lead before Harvard collected 15 of the next 23 points to hold a 24-18 advantage with 8:32 to play before the break. AnnMarie Healy sunk a three from the wing to complete the spurt.

A successful and-one from St. John's Ashley Perez brought the Red Storm within four, 29-25, but Gordon broke off a 5-0 spurt by herself to give the Crimson its largest lead of the half, 34-25. Harvard headed to the locker room leading St. John's, 36-30. 

After the Red Storm scored four of the first six points to open the second stanza, Fagbenle completed an and-one with just over 16 minutes to play to give the Crimson a 46-38 advantage. The two teams held steady for the next three minutes before St. John's exploded, ripping off a 11-2 run to take a 55-54 lead at the 10:59 mark.

A lay-up by Fagbenle stymied the run, but St. John's would extend its lead to as many as nine with 7:25 to play. Harvard refused to fold, fighting back and scoring the next six points to come within three, 66-63, after a Fagbenle lay-in with 5:51 left.

The two squads would trade baskets, as two free throws by Melissa Mullins made the game a one-possession match, 75-72, with 1:11 to play. A rebound by Mullins on the ensuing possession gave the Crimson the chance to tie with 43 seconds left. A charge call would send the ball the other way, as the Red Storm converted their free throws down the stretch to account for the final score.

Harvard continues its road swing next weekend at the Arizona State Classic. The Crimson will play Long Beach State Dec. 7 and either host Arizona State or Sacred Heart in the second game Dec. 8.

Game Notes: Temi Fagbenle posted the third 20-plus point performance (20 points) of her career and first this season. Fagbenle has scored double-figures 25 times in her career. Elise Gordon passed the 10-plus mark for the second time this season with 11 points. With 12 points, Christine Clark holds the No. 8 all-time on the Harvard scoring list with 1,420 career points. The senior scored in double-figures for the 80th time in her career and seventh time this season. Erin McDonnell scored in double-digits for the fourth time this season and second time over the last three games. The Crimson has scored 75-plus points in seven games this season. Melissa Mullins grabbed nine rebounds to lead Harvard for the fifth time this season. Harvard went with the starting lineup of Curtis, Clark, Mullins, Fagbenle and McDonnell for the eighth-straight game.