Second Half Rally Just Short as Women's Basketball Falls to Princeton, 64-60

Sophomore guard Sydney Skinner scored 14 points for Harvard against Princeton. (Gil Talbot)

A big second half comeback for Harvard women's basketball (20-6, 8-5 Ivy League) fell just short, as the Crimson fell to Princeton (15-10, 9-3 Ivy League), 64-60, at Lavietes Pavilion on Friday night (March 3).

Sophomore Madeline Raster led the Crimson with 16 points, including five three-pointers, while sophomore Sydney Skinner added 14 points and four assists. Freshman guard Katie Benzan also scored in double-figures, adding 13 points and four assists.

"I loved my team and was very proud of them in the second half," said head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. "I said the goal was to get the lead under 10 heading into the fourth quarter and they got it to nine and it was a pure fight. But why do we have to wait to do that?"

Trailing by as many as 21 points (41-20) in the second half, the Crimson started its comeback midway through the third quarter. Raster hit three consecutive threes in less than 60 seconds, including a four-point play on her last triple, as Harvard continued to cut into the Princeton advantage.

The Crimson got the deficit back to single digits (50-41) at the 2:21 mark of the third quarter as Skinner rattled off seven-straight points for Harvard. The Tigers pushed the lead back to 12 on a three on the ensuing possession, but sophomore Kelsey Bogdan answered with a three of her own to make it 53-44 with just under two minutes to play in the third. Princeton held a 55-46 lead after three quarters of action.

Harvard made it's big move to make it a one possession game late in the fourth quarter. With 3:53 to play in the contest, Benzan knocked down her second three of the game to bring Harvard within five (58-53). Princeton managed to extend the lead back to eight with 1:15 to play, but a furious Crimson rally helped Harvard get within one possession (62-59) with :47 to go, including Raster's fifth triple of the game to bring Harvard within three.

Harvard locked down defensively and got the ball back with a chance to tie after forcing Princeton shot clock violation. The Tigers then fouled Jeannie Boehm to send the freshman to the line with 12 seconds remaining. Boehm split a pair to make it 62-60, but the Tigers were able to control the rebound and seal the win on the free throw line.

The Crimson took a slight lead over the visiting Tigers throughout the opening minutes of the contest. Benzan scored the first five points for Harvard, giving the Crimson a 5-4 advantage.

Princeton responded with its first of two big runs in the quarter, using a 6-0 spurt to retake the lead (10-5). After Harvard narrowed the deficit to one (10-9) on baskets from Boehm and senior Destiny Nunley, Princeton began a 16-0 run that lasted into the early parts of the second quarter. The Tigers led 24-9 after the opening frame.

Back-to-back triples from Raster and Skinner ended the Tigers' run and helped Harvard climb back into the contest (28-15) just over midway through the second quarter. The Tigers, however, continued to apply pressure to the Harvard defense and extended its lead throughout the half. A three from senior Taylor Finley with 23 seconds to go in the second made it a manageable deficit (35-20) at the intermission.

Harvard will return to action tomorrow night at Lavietes Pavilion with a 6 p.m. matchup against Penn. The Crimson will honor seniors Taylor Finley, Grace Keane, and Destiny Nunley. The game will air on ESPN3 and the Ivy League Digital Network.

The full game archive of Harvard-Princeton can be viewed here.