That wild rivalry between the Harvard and Yale football teams seemed to briefly spill over to women’s hoops this past Saturday (March 9) in New Haven, Conn. Unfortunately, up against the passionate play of the host Bulldogs, the Harvard Crimson were the ones to get soaked.
With absolutely nothing to lose, the industrious Elis (with an 8-18 overall record prior to tip-off) upset the favored Crimson team, 64-58, to hand the visitors their first defeat in seven outings. Though Harvard outrebounded Yale 46 to 32, the Bulldogs’ bench went to work on the visitors, outscoring Harvard’s reserves 21 to 13.
Most tragically, the setback — a month to the day of Harvard’s first meeting with Yale (which Harvard won, 65-55) — wrecked the Crimson’s chance to clinch the league title outright. (Harvard secured a share of the title the previous evening [March 7] with a 68-47 win at Brown.)
With the Yale loss, however, coach Kathy Delaney-Smith’s club finishes the season 11-3 in Ivy play to set up an unnerving three-way tie with Dartmouth and Cornell. Harvard will participate in a rare playoff tournament with the Big Green and Big Red this weekend at host site Columbia for the right to advance to the NCAA tourney. First, the Crimson must get past Dartmouth on Friday evening (March 14) before facing Cornell on Sunday (March 16) to secure that coveted berth.
The good news amid all this mess: Harvard can and has beaten these teams. On the heels of the squad’s 52-47 home loss to Dartmouth in January, Harvard responded with a commanding 47-34 victory in Hanover, N.H. Against the more experienced Cornell team, meanwhile, the Crimson picked up a 51-48 victory on March 1 — though that was in response to a tough 24-point defeat at the hands of the Big Red two weeks prior.
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