SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Senior captain Erin McDonnell buried a three pointer at the top of the key and Harvard women's basketball held strong on the defensive end to secure a 79-76 overtime win over Holy Cross on the final day of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Challenge at Purcell Pavilion. The Crimson (3-2) was led by a quartet of double-figure scorers, including a personal best 22 points from senior Ali Curtis.
Senior Temi Fagbenle also notched a personal milestone, corralling 17 rebounds and scoring 11 points to record the 21st double-double of her career. Junior AnnMarie Healy matched her career high set two days ago with 18 points, adding five rebounds and three steals. McDonnell rounded out the top scorers with 17 points, including the dagger to win it in overtime.
Holy Cross was paced by Raquel Scott and Lisa Mifsud with 23 points apiece. Scott added seven rebounds and Mifsud dished out five assists.
It marked the first time the Crimson had played an overtime game since Dec. 10, 2012 and the first win for Harvard in extra time since Dec. 1 of the same year against Hofstra.
Each team was within a basket of each other in the overtime and, down by one, Gillespie put HC up two with a three in front of her own bench. With 58 seconds remaining, the Crimson worked the ball around until Curtis found McDonnell, who knocked in a triple from the top of the key. A stout defensive effort on the opposite end, capped by another defensive rebound by Fagbenle, and two FTs by the senior from London, England, sealed the victory.
Holding a 12-point cushion, the Crimson was shaken by Holy Cross' press, allowing defensive pressure to jumpstart a 16-4 run. A three from Mifsud knotted the game at 58-58 with just over five minutes of action remaining. Harvard did not give in, as Curtis hit back-to-back threes, both assisted by Metoyer. After a three by Mifsud, Curtis hit two free throws to give Harvard a three-point cushion, but the Crusaders the ball with 11 seconds to play. Mifsud dished to teammate Kate Gillespie to knock in the tying trey and extend the game for five minutes.
The Crusaders put up seven of the first 10 points after halftime to pull within five, 39-34. Undeterred, the Crimson registered an 8-2 jolt to push its lead back to 11, 47-36. Kit Metoyer wrapped the spurt with a long trey from the wing.
Up a basket, the Crimson rattled off seven-straight points to hold an 18-9 advantage at the 11:45 mark in the first half. McDonnell started the run with a triple from the wing and Destiny Nunley capped it with a fast break lay-in. The Crusaders registered six of the next nine points to come within six, but Healy posted back-to-back buckets on the run to give the Crimson a 10-point advantage, 25-15, with 8:24 to play before the break.
HC came within six two minutes later, but a turnaround by Healy and triples from senior captain Kaitlyn Dinkins and McDonnell gave the Crimson its largest lead of the half, 34-22, and 3:10 to play. Shooting 50 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes, Harvard took a 36-27 advantage into the locker room.
Harvard will wrap up the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Challenge Sunday against Temple at Mohegan Sun.
Game Notes: This marked the first overtime game for the Crimson since Dec. 10, 2012, a loss against Boston University. It was the first win in extra time for the Crimson since 12/1/12 against Hofstra. Ali Curtis broke her career high with 22 points. Temi Fagbenle grabbed a personal-best 17 rebounds, adding 11 points for her 21st career double-double. AnnMarie Healy recorded double-digits for the third time this season and seventh in her career with 18 points. It was the second time in South Bend that the junior posted a personal best. Erin McDonnell registered her 17th double-figure effort with 17 points. Head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith used the starting lineup of Ali Curtis, Kaitlyn Dinkins, AnnMarie Healy, Temi Fagbenle and Erin McDonnell for the second-straight game. Harvard moves to 0-1 with this lineup.
Maddy Tessier-Kay saw her first action in a Harvard uniform.