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Women’s Basketball Drops Pair of Road Games

The Harvard women's basketball team fell to Princeton and UPenn this past weekend.
The Harvard women's basketball team fell to Princeton and UPenn this past weekend. By Sarah G. Erickson
By Oscar E. Mercado and Reed M. Trimble, Crimson Staff Writers

The Harvard women’s basketball team (15-11, 8-5 Ivy) dropped both games of its double-header this past weekend, falling to Princeton (22-4, 12-1) 60-49 and UPenn (15-11, 7-6) 69-67. Despite the weekend’s setback, the Crimson remains in third place in the conference.

Harvard 49, Princeton 60

Harvard was unable to redeem its early-season loss to Princeton, falling short to the Tigers by 11 points.

Entering the matchup, both teams had clinched their spot in the upcoming Ivy Madness tournament. However, a win for the Crimson would have kept it in the running for a second-seed bid, but its loss to Princeton both leaves the team in a precarious position ranking-wise, and solidifies the Tigers’ first overall seeding.

Feeling a sense of urgency, Harvard started the game strong, led by its field general, junior guard Harmoni Turner who posted a 16-point performance in the first half. Turner’s offensive output accounted for nearly half of the team’s points in the first half. However, Princeton’s defense keyed in on the Crimson’s heavy reliance on Turner, shutting down the scoring phenom and overcoming Harvard in a gritty 60-49 victory for the Tigers.

A patented Turner triple kicked off the scoring, but the first quarter was characterized by a deadlock between the evenly matched-up squads as the period ended in a 12-12 tie. However, Harvard distanced itself from the Tigers in the second stanza, outscoring Princeton 21-16. Following a quick Princeton lead, Harvard embarked on a 10-0 run beginning with a three-pointer from senior guard Lola Mullaney and punctuated by a Turner jumper, giving the Crimson a 22-15 advantage. Harvard’s shooting prowess was on full display as Turner, Mullaney, and sophomore forward Katie Krupa nailed four triples in the period helping the Crimson sport a 33-28 lead at halftime.

While the first half was dominated by Turner and the Crimson’s sizzling offense, the second half was dominated by the Tigers’ stifling defense and dominance on the boards. Princeton held Harvard to just six points in the third quarter (its third lowest total for any quarter this season) and blanked the dynamic Turner.

“We were not in an offensive flow state and were not taking care of the ball like we normally do,” Mullaney said.

Harvard’s offensive struggles combined with Princeton’s sharp offensive execution compounded the Crimson’s deficit, getting outscored 15-6 in the period and trailing 43-39 entering the final stanza. However, the Crimson could not overcome the Tigers defense in the fourth, ultimately falling 60-49. The Crimson mustered just 16 points in the half, seven of which came in the final three minutes. The Tigers achieved this defensive dominance by holding Harvard to just 34.5 percent from the field for the game, and outrebounding the Crimson by a tally of 37-24.

The team will need to fight for the third-seed ranking in the Ivy Tournament in its game against Dartmouth this weekend.
The team will need to fight for the third-seed ranking in the Ivy Tournament in its game against Dartmouth this weekend. By Courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications

Harvard 67, Penn 69

Less than 24 hours after losing to Princeton, the Crimson also tasted defeat at the hands of UPenn in a tight two-point game. The Quakers’ offensive onslaught, which saw them notch an impressive 69 points, was the fourth-highest point total by an opposing team against Harvard this season. UPenn’s scorching 45 percent average from the three-point line was the best shooting percentage by any Ivy League foe against Harvard this season, and in a turning tables moment from the night before against Princeton, enabled the Quaker’s to pick apart the Crimson’s at times porous defense.

“I think the Princeton-Penn back to back is definitely the hardest trip based on travel and competition,” said Mullaney. “They played really well and shot the ball great from 3 which hurt us in the end.”

Harvard’s offense was once again quarterbacked by Turner, who led the scoring effort of players on both teams with 19 points. Mullaney and junior guard Elena Rodriguez also posted double-digit performances, contributing 18 and 12 respectively.

Harvard came out of the game hot, pouncing early on an unsuspecting UPenn defense that allowed it to capitalize on early momentum and take an 11 point lead midway through the first quarter. However, the Quakers quickly answered in kind, ending the quarter on a 15-5 run, catapulted by two deep balls from junior guard Stina Almqvist.

Following a 9-2 run by the Quakers, Harvard mounted a comeback of its own in the second quarter, erasing a seven-point in part due to a Mullaney three pointer and three free throws earned by Mullaney on an attempted triple. The teams stood even at 33-33, but a close finish to the quarter earned UPenn a 38-37 advantage entering halftime.

The game of runs continued in the second half as an 11-point UPenn lead swiftly vanished as a result of a solo 8-0 run from Mullaney en route to a 14-1 run by the Crimson punctuated by a Krupa buzzer beater. Harvard ended the quarter sporting a slim 51-49 lead, setting us up for an exciting fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter proved to be a different style of game with no extended scoring runs from either squad. Neither team held a lead of more than four points as the two squads traded baskets down the stretch. However, with time winding down and the Quakers sporting a 63-62 lead, a critical foul by freshman forward Abigail Wright extended UPenn’s lead to three with 36 seconds left. At this juncture, Harvard was forced to foul on defense and try to convert on a triple to even the game. The search for a triple came too late from Turner, as the Quakers held on for a crushing 69-67 defeat for Harvard.

“Obviously, this weekend we did not get the outcomes we wanted but we learned from our mistakes and this will only help us with our preparation heading into Ivy madness,” Mullaney said. “I think it shows that we can beat any team we play.”

The Crimson return to the hardwood for one last regular season tune-up before Ivy Madness, which will see the Crimson host Dartmouth (7-18, 1-12 Ivy) at Lavietes. Harvard has its ticket to the tournament punched, but its success against the Big Green will determine whether it can clinch the third seed, or whether the ranking will fall to UPenn. The Crimson will fight for its seeding on Tuesday at 8:00pm EST. The game will also be streamed on ESPN+.

—Staff writer Oscar E. Mercado can be reached at

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