Women’s Basketball Drops 59-43 Decision at Columbia

Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
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NEW YORK – A slow start and poor shooting doomed Harvard women's basketball, as the Crimson fell to Columbia, 59-43 at Levien Gymnasium Friday evening.

Senior captain Erin McDonnell paced the Crimson (9-12, 2-5) with 10 points. Senior forward Temi Fagbenle added nine points and 14 rebounds. Harvard shot just 22.4 percent (15-67) from the field, including 3-of-22 from behind the arc, falling to Columbia for the first time in New York City and just the third time in 59 meetings.

The Lions (7-14, 1-6) earned their first win in Ancient Eight play behind the play of Sara Mead (14 points) and Alexa Giuliano, who posted 12 points and 13 rebounds. Tori Oliver chipped in 11 points and 11 boards.

The Lions jumped out to a 20-4 advantage after nine minutes of action, fueled by four triples. Freshman Kirby Porter stopped the run with a fast break lay-in and Destiny Nunley added two free throws to pull within 12, 20-8. Miwa Tachibana would answer immediately, connecting on another Columbia three and Oliver gave the Lions their largest lead of the half with a fast-break conversion.

Columbia held a 13-point lead, 31-18, at the break. Over the first 20 minutes, the Crimson shot just 7-of-29 (24.1 percent), including 1-for-10 from behind the arc, with 13 turnovers.

Harvard made a run out of the break, scoring the first seven points and holding the Lions to without a field goal for the first six minutes. Over the span, the Crimson came within six, 31-25, after back-to-back Fagbenle lay-ups. Columbia answered with a 6-0 run of its own to expand its lead back to 14, 39-25.

Despite an energized defensive effort from the Crimson, the Lions were able to maintain their advantage, finishing off the 16-point victory.    

Harvard travels to Newman Arena to meet Cornell tomorrow. The game time has been moved from its original time to 4 p.m.

Game Notes: Erin McDonnell tallied her 19th game in double-digits this season with 10 points. It marked the 32nd time in her career McDonnell has posted 10-plus. Seven players scored for the Crimson. It marked the 11th game that Fagbenle has pulled down 10-plus boards. This marked just the third loss in 59 meetings against Columbia and the first in New York City. It marked the lowest point total against the Lions and the largest loss. The Crimson has made a consecutive three-pointer in a program-record 178 games. The Crimson moves to 1-1 with the starting lineup of McDonnell, Fagbenle, Healy, Tummala and Metoyer. Temi Fagbenle owns 1,064 career points to sit No. 16 all-time at Harvard.