NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Harvard women's basketball tied the fourth-largest deficit overcome in NCAA Division I history and the largest in program history (23 points) to beat Yale, 72-69, Saturday evening at Lee Amphitheater. Senior AnnMarie Healy led the way for the Crimson (10-11, 5-3) with 18 points and six rebounds. Senior Shilpa Tummala added 14 points, including the go-ahead basket.
The 23-point comeback was the best for Harvard since Feb. 20, 2009, when the Crimson overcame a 22-point deficit to upend Princeton, 54-50. Harvard trailed by 23 twice, last with 2:09 to play in the second quarter. In NCAA history, three teams had fought back from 23 points down, most recently UTEP over Southern Miss with an 86-85 overtime win on Jan. 22, 2014.
Tummala added six boards, while junior Destiny Nunley paced Harvard on the glass with seven rebounds. Rookie Sydney Skinner led a pivotal charge to end the first half and finished with a personal-best 13 points.
Yale (11-14, 2-6) was paced by Nyasha Sarju with 18 points. Whitney Wyckoff and Tamara Simpson added 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Harvard scored the first four points of the contest, but Yale answered immediately with 16 of the next 18 to pull ahead by 10, 16-6. Healy stopped the run with an old-fashioned three-point play, but the Bulldogs had an answer to each Crimson bucket, heading into the first break up 23-14.
Yale did not cool off during the second quarter, hitting three-consecutive triples that started a 14-0 run that pushed the Bulldog lead to 37-14 with just over five minutes to play before the break. Down 23, Harvard made its move with two minutes before the break. Skinner ignited a 14-0 run with nine points, starting with a three in front of the Yale bench. The rookie capped the spurt with two free throws just before the break to pull the Crimson within nine, 40-31.
The Bulldogs composed themselves after halftime, spouting off six of the first eight points to pull back ahead, 46-33. The Crimson did not allow a Yale basket for the next six minutes and outscored the home team 13-4 to pull within four, 50-46, at the 2:50 mark. Harvard trailed by five, 58-53, with 10 minutes of action remaining.
Nunley connected on a bucket in the lane and Raster nailed a triple in front of the Crimson bench to knot the score, 60-60, with five minutes to play. The two teams battled back and forth until a second-chance basket by Tummala pushed the Crimson ahead, 67-66, with 2:36 left. The senior made two free throws two minutes later to push the Harvard lead to three and the Crimson made 3-of-4 down the stretch to secure the win.
Harvard returns home next weekend, welcoming Columbia and Cornell. Both games will be live on the Ivy League Digital Network. The contest against the Big Red will serve as the Pack the House game.
Game Notes: AnnMarie Healy posted double-figures for the 21st time this season and the 44th of her career with 18 points. She paced the Crimson for the 13th time this year. For the second time this year and the first since Rice (Nov. 28), Sydney Skinner posted double-figures with 13 points, a personal best. Tummala registered 16 points, her 16th in double-digits. Harvard went with the starting lineup of Healy, Redford, Tummala, Metoyer and Raster for the 18th-straight game. The Crimson moves to 9-9 with that starting five. The Crimson moves to 49-30 all-time against the Bulldogs and has won eight-straight.