FORT MEYERS, Fla. – Despite a 21-2 run in the third quarter to narrow a 25-point deficit to just five points, Harvard women's basketball (4-4) dropped a 74-65 decision Saturday night to Florida Gulf Coast University at Alico Arena. Senior captains AnnMarie Healy and Kit Metoyer led a quartet of double-figure Crimson scorers with 11 points apiece on the night.
Harvard was undone by a 29-13 first quarter and forced to play catch-up for the remainder of the game. Junior Destiny Nunley, 10 points, and senior Shilpa Tummala, 10 points, were the other two Crimson players in double-digits. Tummala finished with a double-double, adding 10 rebounds and six assists.
Florida Gulf Coast (5-3) was paced by Kaneisha Atwater with 27 points. Haley Laughter added 17 points and Taylor Gradinjan chipped in 12 points, all from behind the three point line.
FGCU connected early, making eight of its first 11 shots and draining 3-of-3 from behind the arc. Leading 15-8, the Eagles ripped off seven-unanswered points to push its lead to 22-8 with 2:42 to play before the first break. Harvard responded with a jumper from Nunley and a trey on the wing from Metoyer, but FGCU did not cool down, posting another 7-0 run to hold a 29-13 advantage after 10 minutes.
With a 12-5 run to start the second, the Eagles expanded their lead to 23, 41-18, at the 4:37 mark. The Crimson scored back-to-back buckets and did not allow a FGCU point for the final 2:42 to head into halftime trailing, 45-26. For the half, the Eagles shot 51.5 percent, while the Crimson was limited to 37.5 percent shooting. Harvard also committed double the turnovers of FGCU (10-5).
The Eagles opened the third quarter with six-consecutive points to push to its largest lead, but Metoyer answered with back-to-back triples from in front of the Harvard bench to jumpstart the Crimson. A lay-up by Metoyer capped a 10-0 spurt and pull the Crimson within 15, 51-36, at the 5:34 mark. Atwater answered, but Harvard was not finished, spouting off 11-unanswered to complete a 21-2 run over five minutes of play. Six Crimson players scored over the run, as Harvard pulled within six, 53-47, after a second-chance bucket by Healy with 2:08 to play in the third. Harvard trailed by nine, 58-49, with 10 minutes to play.
Down 66-57 with 5:40 to play, Nunley took it to the basket and Tummala stopped on a dime in traffic to narrow FGCU's lead to five, 66-61. The Eagles were sure from the foul line down the stretch to secure the 74-65 win.
Harvard returns home to Lavietes Tuesday, Dec. 8 to face Eastern Michigan at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Game Notes: For the fourth time this season, Kit Metoyer posted double-figures with 11 points. The senior paced the Crimson for the second time this year. AnnMarie Healy posted double-figures for the eighth time this season and the 31st of her career with 11 points. Shilpa Tummala scored 10-plus for the sixth time this year with 10 points. Destiny Nunley registered double-digits for the second time in 2015-16 (10 points). Four players posted double-figures for the fourth time in five games. Harvard went with the starting lineup of Healy, Redford, Tummala, Metoyer and Raster for the fifth-straight game. The Crimson moves to 3-2 with that starting five. Harvard was shooting to win after trailing by 25 points, which would have been the largest overcome in program history.