Three by McDonnell Lifts Women’s Basketball Over Columbia, 82-81

Photo courtesy of Harvard Athletics
Photo courtesy of Harvard Athletics
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The hero on Senior Night, co-captain Erin McDonnell hit a long three to push Harvard women's basketball past Columbia, 82-81, Saturday evening at Lavietes Pavilion.  

McDonnell finished with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists for the Crimson (12-14, 5-7).  Junior AnnMarie Healy, who provided a clutch block late, paced Harvard with 21 points and 11 rebounds, her fifth double-double of the year. Senior forward Temi Fagbenle (16 points, eight rebounds), junior guard Shilpa Tummala (15 points) and classmate Kit Metoyer (10 points) rounded out the five Crimson players in double-figures.

For the Lions (8-18, 2-10), freshman Alexa Giuliano went 8-of-12 from behind the arc, including 6-8 over the first 20 minutes, to contribute 24 points. Rookie Camille Zimmerman paced Columbia with 24 points and eight rebounds. Tori Oliver chipped in 14 points and eight boards.

Even at 79-79, Oliver converted a lay-up with 81 seconds remaining. With the shot clock winding down, McDonnell coolly nailed a long triple from the top of the key to give the Crimson a one-point advantage. On the ensuing possession, Healy blocked a shot attempt by Zimmerman and Harvard would hold on for the victory.

Both teams came out hot to start the game, shooting a combined 17-of-25 (68 percent), including 8-of-9 from three, over the first eight minutes of the game. The Lions led by as many as eight over the first 20 minutes and possessed a seven-point advantage, 25-18, after Giuliano hit the fifth of her six first-half treys. The Crimson immediately responded, as Metoyer dished to Fagbenle before making a deep three from the wing to pull Harvard within two.

Another triple from Metoyer at the 7:01 mark put Harvard ahead 34-33, but the Crimson would hit a cold streak, unable to connect from the field over the next four minutes. The slum allowed the Lions to rattle off 10-unanswered points and build a 43-36 advantage. Harvard posted seven of the final nine points before the break to pull within two, 45-43, at the half.

The two squads showed no sign of slowing down in the second half, as Healy engineered the first eight points for the Crimson, pushing Harvard in front, 51-50, with 16:11 to play. The two teams stayed within a possession of each other over the next four minutes until Columbia used a five point swing to push ahead but four, 57-53. Fagbenle scored back-to-back baskets and McDonnell nailed a three in front of her bench to put the Crimson back on top, 60-57.

Columbia seemed to gain the upper hand at the 6:50 mark after a quick 5-0 spurt put the tally at 71-66 in favor of the Lions. Harvard clawed its way back, scoring eight of the next 11 points to even the score, which would stay within three points for the remainder of the contest.

The Crimson hits the road for the final weekend of the regular season, heading to Yale and Brown.

Game Notes: AnnMarie Healy broke her career high with 21 points, posting her third 20-plus outing and 17th game with 10-plus points this season. Erin McDonnell posted double-figures for the 23rd time this season with 15 points. Shilpa Tummala registered her third double-digit game with 15 points. For the 20th time this season and 60th time in her career, Temi Fagbenle posted double-figures with 16 points, adding eight rebounds. Kit Metoyer grabbed double-figures for the second-straight game and fourth this year with 10 points. It marked the second time this year that Harvard has had five players in double-figures. The Crimson moves to 1-0 with the starting lineup of McDonnell, Fagbenle, Healy, Curtis and Dinkins. Harvard moves to 57-3 all-time against Columbia. The Crimson has made a consecutive three-pointer in a program-record 183 games. Fagbenle owns 1,121 career points to sit No. 15 all-time at Harvard. Columbia freshman Alexa Giuliano broke the Columbia record for most threes in a game with eight.