CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A late 19-point run by Florida Gulf Coast would prove to be too much, as the Harvard women's basketball team (6-6) fell to FGCU (13-2) by a score of 68-58 Friday night at Lavietes Pavilion. Senior forward Temi Fagbenle paced the Crimson with 19 points and seven rebounds, but the Crimson could not convert over the final six minutes, shooting 1-for-10 from the field and committing four turnovers.
Senior captain Erin McDonnell posted 11 points for the Crimson, as junior forward AnnMarie Healy and junior guard Kit Metoyer each chipped in nine points. Metoyer pulled down four boards and dished out three assists in the loss.
Kaneisha Atwater (19 points), Whitney Knight (18 points) and Anthi Chatzigiakoumi (15 points) led the attack for the Eagles. Stephanie Haas added 11 points for FGCU.
Harvard outshot (41%-36%) and outrebounded (43-30) FGCU, but the late run proved too much for the Crimson.
The Crimson struggled out of the gate, coughing up six turnovers and shooting 0-of-2 from the field over the first five minutes. Harvard locked down the Eagles on the defensive end, forcing FGCU into 2-of-9 shooting and the score stood at 4-0. The two teams traded baskets until the Crimson seemed to gain the momentum after the under eight media timeout. Healy started the 6-0 spurt with a jumper in the paint and Kit Metoyer ended it with a coast-to-coast layup, giving the Crimson a 22-18 advantage.
Florida Gulf Coast matched the run with back-to-back triples to regain a two-point advantage, 24-22, at the 5:19 mark. A flurry of free throws down the stretch by both teams – and a highlight-reel, coast-to-coast layup by freshman Kirby Porter that exploded the Harvard bench – gave the Crimson a 30-27 lead heading into the locker room.
The two teams continued to battle after the break, and Florida Gulf Coast built a six-point advantage with 11:08 to play, 47-41, after an Atwater triple. The Crimson rebounded with 12 unanswered points to swing the pendulum and hold its own six-point lead. Fagbenle led the charge with six points and McDonnell capped the run with a long two.
Knight connected with a triple from the wing to silence the Harvard run and the Eagles continued their onslaught with 19 answered points to hold a 68-55 lead with under a minute to go. Senior Kaitlyn Dinkins hit a late three, but it would not be enough as the Eagles walked away with the 10-point win.
Harvard will take on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Monday, Jan. 5 at 12 noon for Education Day.
Game Notes: Temi Fagbenle has registered double-figures in 10 of 12 contests with 19 points. It marked the 50th double-digit effort of her career. A senior has paced the Crimson in all but one game this season. Erin McDonnell registered her 24th double-figure effort with 11 points. Head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith used the starting lineup of Ali Curtis, Kaitlyn Dinkins, AnnMarie Healy, Temi Fagbenle and Erin McDonnell for the ninth-straight game. Harvard moves to 4-5 with this lineup. The Crimson moves to 0-1 against Florida Gulf Coast University.