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Women's Basketball Bounced From WNIT by Hofstra

In its fourth Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) appearance in five years, the Harvard women’s basketball team (14-14, 9-5 Ivy) struggled to make up an early deficit en route to a 76-50 loss to Hofstra (23-8, 13-5 Colonial).

Playing against a Pride squad the Crimson last faced four years ago at the same event, Harvard couldn’t replicate the outcome of the latter, a nailbiter 73-71 win to advance to the second round of the tournament.

Instead, the Crimson faltered early on after a first quarter that saw Harvard outrebounded by six and outscored by 16.

“They were just hitting their shots and everyone separated. We played horrible, we didn’t not play well in the first half at all,” head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “We did not play well in the first quarter. In the first half there was a period where we had no offense rebounds and they had more offensive rebounds than we had rebounds. It just wasn’t our night.”

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The Crimson shot 20 percent through the first frame, making only two threes to end the period down 22-6.

In the second quarter, Harvard made an effort kept up with the Pride on the boards, but struggled to score baskets. Hofstra continued their offensive onslaught, shooting 53 percent through the second frame to take a 41-19 lead into the half.

“They pushed the ball in transition and that put us on our heels,” senior Shilpa Tummala said. “They hit all their shots. We didn’t really have a counter to that. We were getting the looks we wanted, it was just unfortunate our shots didn’t fall.”

In the second half, the Crimson kept up with the Pride, but struggled to close the deficit.

After being outrebounded 11 to 20 through the first half, Harvard doubled the Pride’s six rebounds in the third quarter. Despite the presence on the boards, the Crimson still struggled to hit shots, shooting 8-of-20 from the field and 3-of-9 from the arc.

“We came back stronger in the second half, but we couldn’t hit any of our shots,” Delaney-Smith said. “We played tougher defense and tried to control the boards a little bit, but there wasn’t anything really good about our game.”

The offensive burdens carried into the last frame as well. Despite forcing five turnovers in the last quarter, Harvard couldn’t get shots to drop through the last ten minutes. Hofstra started the period with seven uncontested points to take a 27 point lead and the Crimson struggled to recover, shooting 21 percent through the period.

Despite the late defensive surge, Harvard couldn’t make up for its poor shooting as it gave Hofstra the win and ended the Crimson’s season.

Despite the loss, the last game of Harvard’s season had its share of bright spots. Co-captain AnnMarie Healy scored ten points and added four rebounds—through the season she didn’t fail to score in double digits in a game.

Co-captain Kit Metoyer also sank three three-pointers, moving her to seventh all time in threes made for the Crimson with 127.

Despite the loss, Harvard’s seniors had nothing but fond memories of a program they carried offensively throughout the year.

“This program is a special one and I’ll always cherish the time I played for Kathy and my teammates,” Tummala said. “Unfortunately it does have to come to an end at some point. We didn’t want to see it happen this way, but I’ll have friendships and coached I can count on for the rest of my life.”

Healy echoed Tummala’s thoughts.

“Being a part of this team is so much more than basketball,” Healy said. “At the end of the day it was really hard, but that struggle and that climb is so worth is it just because you’re able to be a stronger person because of it and you’ll make some great friendships for the rest of your life and some really great memories that will stick with you forever.”

–Staff writer Troy Boccelli can be reached at troy.boccelli@thecrimson.com.

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