Despite Strong Defensive Effort, Women's Basketball Falls 57-52 at Yale

Senior Taylor Finley and Harvard's bench outscored Yale, 20-9, on Friday night. (Nick Pacino)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. –
Senior forward Destiny Nunley had 10 points and nine rebounds, and freshman guard Katie Benzan added 14 points, but the Harvard women's basketball team (19-5, 7-4 Ivy League), fell 57-52 at Yale (13-11, 4-7 Ivy League) on Friday night.

Junior guard Taylor Rooks added 11 points off the bench for Harvard, which rallied from a seven point third quarter deficit to take a 49-44 lead midway through the fourth quarter. A baseline jumper by Rooks, followed by a long three-pointer by Benzan, her fourth of the game, put Harvard ahead by five with 3:59 to play in regulation.

But Harvard was held to one field goal the rest of the game, as Yale pulled ahead for good at 51-49 on a three-point play with 2:49 to go. Nunley's short jumper off an inbounds play pulled Harvard back to within one point at 53-52 with 1:01 to go.

Trailing 55-52, Benzan's three-point attempt with five seconds to play was partially blocked, and the Bulldogs held on for the win.

The Crimson withstood a hot start by Yale, rallying from 8-3 first quarter deficit to tie the game at 11-11 after a three by Benzan, followed by a free throw from senior Taylor Finley with 1:57 to go in the quarter.

But Yale extended the lead back to five points at the first break, and kept Harvard at bay through much of the second quarter.

With Yale leading by as many as nine points, Harvard got a spark off the bench from Rooks and freshman forward Maria Guramare.

Trailing 26-17, it was Guramare who grabbed an offensive rebound for a put back to stop a 6-0 Yale run. Then with 1:30 remaining in the half, Rooks hit a tough layup inside, which was followed by a steal from freshman reserve Mackenzie Barta. That play led to another layup from Guramare to help Harvard regain momentum before halftime, as the Crimson trailed 28-23 at the break.

Harvard tied the game early in the third quarter on a layup by Boehm followed by a three pointer from Benzan at 8:47. That was followed by a quick 7-0 run by the Bulldogs, forcing a Harvard timeout.

But the Crimson clawed their way back into the game with an 11-2 run, capped off by five straight points from Benzan, a three from the wing followed by a long two from the same area, giving Harvard its first lead of the game at 39-37 with 2:51 left in the third quarter. Harvard held the lead at 41-40 heading into the fourth quarter, before Yale's late run sealed the win for the home team.

Harvard heads to Brown for an afternoon contest tomorrow (Feb. 25) at 4 p.m. The game will air on the Ivy League Digital Network.

To watch the complete game archive of Harvard-Yale, click here.