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Women’s Basketball Splits Home Matchups vs. N.Y. Rivals

Junior Elle Stauffer goes up to defend the basket in a game against Cornell. The Crimson came away with a decisive victory over the Big Red.
Junior Elle Stauffer goes up to defend the basket in a game against Cornell. The Crimson came away with a decisive victory over the Big Red. By Sarah G. Erickson

Coming off back-to-back wins, Harvard women’s basketball (14-9, 7-3 Ivy) looked to continue its winning ways, playing host to a pair of New York rivals in Cornell (7-15, 1-9) and Columbia (18-5, 9-1). This is the second time in the past two weeks that Harvard faced both N.Y. foes on the same weekend. This weekend’s homestand ended with the same result as two weeks earlier, a 74-51 thrashing of the Big Red followed by an excruciating 71-63 defeat to the Lions. The results put Harvard at third place in the Ivy League standings.

Harvard 74, Cornell 51

Harvard returned to Lavietes Pavilion on Friday for the first time since Jan. 20, marking its homecoming with a decisive 74-51 victory over the Cornell Big Red. The victory extended the Crimson’s win streak to three, with junior guard Harmoni Turner leading the charge with 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists en route to the 23-point blowout.

Harvard started off aggressively, with Turner converting her win on the opening tip into two points in a mere four seconds into play. Turner’s dominance set the tone, with the Crimson racing ahead to a 9-2 lead heading into the first TV timeout.

Coming back after the break, a quick offensive spurt from Big Red reduced the lead to 13-8, followed by a nearly four-minute scoreless intermission. Turner capped off the first quarter with four points and five rebounds, putting her on double-double watch and helping the Crimson secure a 16-8 lead.

“I was aware of the double-double,” Turner said. “I tried going for a triple double tonight but couldn’t connect on some passes, which is something that I needed to work on in order to put my teammates in the best possible position.”

Sophomore forward Katie Krupa started the second quarter scoring immediately with a triple followed by back-to-back jump shots from Turner. However, Cornell’s accurate three-point shooting kept the game close, reducing Harvard’s lead to 23-18. Both teams would go on extended uncontested scoring runs, 8-0 for Harvard followed by 7-0 for Cornell, to enter the half with a 31-24 advantage to Harvard.

Krupa tallied an impressive 11 points in the first half, continuing her current hot streak in which she’s averaged 20 points per game in the team’s past three games. “My coaches and teammates believe in me and my ability to help us win, and I need to show up as my best self consistently for them in that way,” Krupa said.

The first half of the game was tit-for-tat, but the Crimson pulled away and broke the gridlock in the third quarter behind a valiant effort led by first-year guard Abigail Wright. Wright came alive in the third, notching an impressive thirteen-point quarter, nearly outshining Cornell’s squad, which only posted 14 points in the period. Turner continued her strong performance with 11 points in the quarter, tallying enough rebounds to secure her double-double. The tandem spearheaded the Crimson’s 59-38 lead to end the quarter.

The Crimson outscored the Big Red 28-14 in the third period en route to a dominating 74-51 victory. Harvard’s defense stood out in the contest, not allowing a single Cornell player to score in double-digits and holding the Big Red as a whole to a putrid 18-for-62 shooting performance.

Sophomore Saniyah Glenn-Bello goes up for the lay-up. Glenn-Bello scored 7 points in the win over Cornell and 6 in the loss to Columbia.
Sophomore Saniyah Glenn-Bello goes up for the lay-up. Glenn-Bello scored 7 points in the win over Cornell and 6 in the loss to Columbia. By Sarah G. Erickson

Harvard 63, Columbia 71

Sunday’s pivotal matchup against the Lions provided the Crimson with an opportunity to clinch its spot in the Ivy League Tournament and earn a tie for second place in the conference. Despite Krupa’s strong outing of 25 points on an uber-efficient 9-for-14 shooting, Harvard came up short, succumbing to a crushing 71-63 defeat.

Turner started the game like a woman on a mission, scoring the team’s first nine points en route to a 9-9 stalemate. The team settled in and received contributions from every member of the starting lineup, providing the Crimson a 18-17 lead at the end of the initial stanza.

The accelerated offensive production seen in the first quarter stalled in the second, as Harvard could only muster nine points in the period. Krupa nailed a triple to start the period’s scoring, followed by back-to-back layups by senior guard Lola Mullaney. Wright tallied Harvard’s final two points of the quarter as the Lions shut down the Harvard offense for the remaining 3:41 in the period. During this time, Columbia closed the quarter on a 5-0 run to regain the lead heading into halftime, 28-27.

Harvard’s shortcomings on the boards caught up with the team in the second half. Columbia snatched seven more offensive rebounds and 15 more total rebounds over the course of the game. Rebounds have been a telling stat for Harvard this year, as the Crimson has only won one game in which it was outrebounded by its opponent.

No team led by more than four points until the Lions took a six point lead with 4:29 left in the fourth quarter. This lead came in the heart of a five-minute scoring drought for the Crimson. A late charge by Harvard was dispelled by the clutch free-throw shooting of Columbia’s junior guard Cecelia Collins. Collins drained six straight free throws on her way to a 20-point performance.

With the victory, Columbia wins the season series 2-0 over the Crimson, but the two teams are on a collision course to meet once more in the playoffs. The Lions and the Crimson sit second and third in the Ivy League standings, respectively, and are currently slated to play in the semifinal round of the Ivy League Tournament. Harvard will host Brown this Saturday at 2:00 p.m. EST for its final game of its three game homestand, as it looks to inch one step closer to clinching a playoff berth. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

—Staff writer Oscar E. Mercado can be reached at

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