Behind Balanced Scoring, Women’s Basketball Halts Yale, 65-55

Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Pressure defense and six triples by senior captain Erin McDonnell led the Harvard women's basketball team past Yale, 65-66, Saturday evening at Lavietes Pavilion in front of 1,854 fans. The Crimson (9-11, 2-4) was led by a balanced scoring attack as eight athletes contributed to the final score.

The Crimson halted a seven-game Bulldogs win streak, knocking off the top team in the Ancient Eight. McDonnell hit six of 10 from behind the arc – the 10th-most in Crimson history – adding eight rebounds and two blocks. Senior forward Temi Fagbenle moved into a tie for No. 16 with 1,055 career points, posting 17 points and nine rebounds in the win. Freshman Kirby Porter also provided a strong showing with nine points and seven rebounds, adding two assists in 20 minutes.

Yale (11-9, 5-1) was paced by Sarju Nyasha and Tamara Simpson with 14 and 13 points, respectively.  

Harvard held a 10-point advantage at the break after a 13-6 spurt over the final five minutes. Up three, 22-19, Porter scored the first six points of the run and Anna Lachenauer capped the rally with a layup and two free throws. Yale hit a triple with 18 seconds left to halt a 2:07 scoring drought.

After a Fagbenle lay-in, the Crimson held a nine-point advantage with just over 10 minutes to play. The Bulldogs made their run, blasting off seven-straight points to pull within two, 47-45, three minutes later. McDonnell answered immediately with a three off a dish from Shilpa Tummala and an AnnMarie Healy jumper gave the Crimson breathing room with 5:51 to play.

Harvard built its lead to 12 after another McDonnell triple at the 4:27 mark. An old-fashioned three-point play by Fagbenle sealed the victory for the Crimson.

Harvard hits the road for six of its final eight contests, starting next weekend with Columbia and Cornell.

Game Notes: Erin McDonnell tallied her 18th game in double-digits this season with 18 points. It marked the 31st time in her career McDonnell has posted 10-plus. Kirby Porter posted a new career high with nine points. The Crimson moves to 1-0 with the starting lineup of McDonnell, Fagbenle, Healy, Tummala and Metoyer. Temi Fagbenle posted 17 points to pass Jessica Gelman and Elaine Holpuch with 1,055 career points. It marked her 17th double-digit game of the season and 57th double-figure effort of her career (17 points). The Crimson has made a consecutive three-pointer in a program-record 177 games.