Women’s Basketball Escapes Yale with 58-57 Win, Stays atop Ivy Standings

Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
Play Video

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Junior forward Erin McDonnell exploded in the second half, posting her first career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds to lift Harvard women's basketball past Yale, 58-57, Saturday night at John J. Lee Amphitheater.

The win was head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith's 300th career Ivy victory.

With the win, the Crimson (15-5, 5-1) remains atop the Ivy League standings. Senior guard Jasmine Evans added 11 points and five rebounds, while senior captain Christine Clark chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds. Junior forward Temi Fagbenle paced the squad with 12 rebounds, adding five points.

Harvard rebounded from an eight-point halftime deficit to come out of the weekend at 2-0. Yale drops to 10-10 overall and 4-2 in Ivy League play. The Bulldogs got 27 points out of Sarah Halejan, although the Crimson's second-half adjustments held her to eight points on 2-of-10 shooting.  

A defensive struggle over the first 20 minutes, the two squads shot just 19-of-58 (32.8 percent) from the field and combined for 14 turnovers. The Crimson connected on 4-of-7 triples, but made just 5-of-22 shots from inside the arc. Halejan took over for the Bulldogs, scoring 19 of the squad's 31 points in the first half, knocking down 7-of-12 shots.

A bucket by Elise Gordon at the 6:28 mark pulled the Crimson within two, 20-18, but Yale scored 11 of the final 16 points before the break to head into the locker room with a 31-23 advantage.

McDonnell broke out in the second half, scoring 12 of the Crimson's first 14 points and giving Harvard a 37-36 advantage with 14:20 left to play. The junior from Morristown, N.J., scored from all over the court, hitting two triples, two lay-ups and two free throws.   

Trading baskets over the next two minutes, Harvard started to take control with an 11-1 run that encompassed nearly eight minutes. Taking it to the hole, Melissa Mullins started the spurt with a lay-in and Clark ended it with a coast-to-coast drive at the five-minute mark.

The Bulldogs would not relent, ripping off seven-straight points to knot the game at 55-55. Yale's Lena Munzer buried a trey from the corner to make it a 52 second game.

The Crimson struck on the next possession, as senior Melissa Mullins connected on a baseline drive. Evans hit a free throw to give the Crimson a three-point advantage with 22 seconds remaining. On the other end, Halejan put away two free throws to give the Crimson the ball back with 14 seconds on the clock. A turnover supplied the Bulldogs a chance to win, but good defensive pressure allowed Harvard to head home with a one-point victory.

The Crimson returns to the friendly confines of Lavietes Pavilion for the next four games, taking on Columbia and Cornell next weekend. On Valentine's Day, the Crimson and Lions will tip off at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Harvard will host its second-annual Pack the House event against Cornell and wear pink in support of the fight against breast cancer.

Game Notes: Harvard head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith now owns 510 career wins, just four shy of tying Princeton's Pete Carril for most wins all-time at an Ivy League school. She owns 300 conference wins. Erin McDonnell notched her first career double-double with 17 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. McDonnell posted double-figures for the 12th time this season and the third time over the last five games. With 10 points, Christine Clark needs 40 points to tie Erin Maher '93 (1,582) for fifth all-time at Harvard in career scoring. The senior has scored 1,542 career points. Harvard moves to 13-4 with the starting lineup of Curtis, Clark, Mullins, Fagbenle and McDonnell. With three made free throws, Clark sits at No. 3 all-time with 406 career free throws. The senior needs 22 to pass Reka Cserny '04 for second all-time. The senior scored in double-figures for the 88th time in her career and 15th time this season. Jasmine Evans notched her 10th double-digit scoring effort, and second of the weekend, with 11 points.