Women’s Basketball Overcomes 15-Point Deficit, Holds On at Cornell, 70-66

Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
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ITHACA, N.Y. – Coming back from an early 15-point deficit, Harvard women's basketball bested Cornell, 70-66, Friday night at Newman Arena behind 18 points and seven rebounds from senior captain Christine Clark.  

Harvard overcame an early 15-point deficit, the largest comeback since Feb. 20, 2009 when the Crimson defeated Princeton, 54-50, after trailing by 22 points.

With the win, head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith is just one victory away from tying Pete Carril for most wins as an Ivy League coach (514). 

Junior forward Temi Fagbenle filled up the stat sheet for the Crimson (18-7, 8-3), registering 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Senior forward Elise Gordon chipped in 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting.

The Big Red (13-12, 5-6) was led by 13 points from Nia Marshall, as Allyson DiMagno posted a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.  

Cornell came out swinging in the first game of its final home weekend, jumping out to a 15-point lead, 23-8, over the first nine-plus minutes. During the run, the Crimson struggled offensively, shooting 4-of-12 and turning the ball over eight times.

Harvard stormed back, scoring 19 of the next 21 points over the next 6:30 to take its first lead since 2-0. A Clark triple from the wing pushed the Crimson to a 27-25 advantage with 4:13 to play before the break. Harvard shot 50.0 percent over the spurt, holding the Big Red to 1-of-7 from the field and forcing six turnovers.

The Crimson headed to the locker room up five, 35-30, behind 12 points and five rebounds from Clark. For the half, Harvard shot 44.4 percent, outrebounding Cornell by 10 (23-13), including 10-4 on the offensive glass.  

Hitting its first three shots after the pause gave Harvard a 12-point advantage, 42-30. Ali Curtis nailed a three pointer right in front of the Crimson bench to force a Cornell timeout with 17:52 to play. Four-straight points from Aston brought the Big Red within eight, but the Crimson held firm.

With a 12-point lead, the Crimson used an 11-2 run to expand its lead to 20, 60-40, with 7:29 left to play. Cornell would not go down easily, rattling off 16-consecutive points to pull within four, 62-58. The Crimson calmly hit all eight of its free throw attempts to hold on for a 70-66 win.

Harvard wraps the weekend tomorrow in New York City against Columbia. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Game Notes: The 15 points overcome by Harvard marked the biggest comeback since Feb. 20, 2009 when the Crimson defeated Princeton, 54-50, after trailing by 22 points. Temi Fagbenle reached her 18th double-figure game of the season (12 points) and 38th of her career. With 18 points, Christine Clark sits at fourth all-time at Harvard with 1,641 points. Clark scored in double-figures for the 93rd time in her career and 19th time this season. Elise Gordon posted her fifth double-figure game of the season, and first since at Princeton Jan 31, with 11 points. Harvard moves to 16-6 with the starting lineup of Curtis, Clark, Mullins, Fagbenle and McDonnell. Of the nine players that saw action, eight scored four-plus points.