CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Overcoming its largest deficit since 2009, Harvard women's basketball (7-8) upended NJIT, 66-54, Sunday afternoon at Lavietes Pavilion. Senior forward Temi Fagbenle paced all scorers with 22 points, but 20 points off the bench helped to rally the Crimson past the Highlanders.
Senior captain Erin McDonnell added 10 points and six rebounds. Freshman forward Anna Lachenauer posted a personal-best nine points and seven rebounds in just 18 minutes. Senior guard Ali Curtis added nine points.
The 17-point deficit marked the largest overcome by Harvard since Feb. 20, 2009 (22 against Princeton). NJIT (8-12) was paced by Leah Horton with 13 points. Nicole Maticka added 12 points and seven boards.
NJIT raced out to a hot start, scoring 20 of the first 24 points to hold a 20-4 advantage at the 12:19 mark. The Highlanders were connecting at a 61.5 percent clip, hitting 4-of-7 from behind the arc. The Crimson answered with five-straight points, but NJIT was not finished, ballooning its lead to 17, 26-9, with 9:11 to play before the break.
With a charged-up defense and some help off the bench, Harvard erupted to orchestrate an 18-point swing over the next 7:21. Sophomore Grace Keane started the 22-4 run with a triple – her first points of the season – and McDonnell ended it with a jumper to give Harvard its first lead of the game. Eight Crimson student-athletes contributed to the run. The two teams went into the break knotted at 33-33.
The two squads stayed within four points of each other to start the second half until an 8-1 run by Harvard – fueled by six points from Lachenauer – gave the home team a nine-point cushion, 50-41, with 8:16 to play. Six points from Fagbenle helped the Crimson expand its lead to 10, 57-47, three minutes later. Harvard would not relent and finished with a 12-point victory, 66-54.
Harvard returns to Ivy League play, heading to Dartmouth Saturday, Jan. 24. Game time is set for 6 p.m.
Game Notes: Temi Fagbenle paced the Crimson with 22 points, her third 20-plus game of the season and first since Temple (11/30). Fagbenle registered her 12th double-figure game of the season and 52nd double-digit effort of her career. Fagbenle is 36 points away from her 1,000th career point. A senior has paced Harvard in scoring in all but three games. Erin McDonnell registered her 27th double-figure effort, and 13th this season, with 10 points, adding six rebounds. Anna Lachenauer broke her career high with nine points and seven rebounds. The Crimson has made a consecutive three-pointer in 172 games, tying the program record. The Crimson moves to 4-0 all-time against NJIT.