For senior guard Jasmine Evans, 45 seconds was all that was necessary to extend Harvard women’s basketball's lead against California Polytechnic.
With seven minutes left in the game, Evans forced the issue for the Crimson, taking Harvard’s one-point advantage to seven with two quick treys.
In the second game of the DePaul Maggie Dixon Classic at McGrath-Phillips Arena in Chicago, Harvard (1-1) faced off against Cal Poly (0-2) Saturday evening and came away with an 83-76 victory.
“In the second half, we came out of a time out and had a run,” junior co-captain Kaitlyn Dinkins said. “Jasmine hit two threes in a row… We really gained the momentum back early in the second half, so that was key and helped us finish the game strong.”
Evans was not the only one leading the Crimson’s offense. Co-captain Christine Clark scored 22 points, to go with seven boards and five assists in 37 minutes.
Junior forward Temi Fagbenle had her eighth career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while junior forward Erin McDonnell chipped in 13 points and 9 boards.
“We knew that they were drivers and they had a few shooters, so we were going to try to contain the drive and just take care of the ball and play our defense and execute on offense,” Dinkins said. “They’re very up-tempo and run everywhere to try to get you on your heels and off balance. We knew we were just going to have to take care of the ball and execute and play our basketball, rather than playing to their tempo.”
The Crimson went out early with a 12-3 lead, but Cal Poly quickly took advantage of a series of Harvard mistakes and found itself ahead 27-26.
“I think that the reason it was a closer game was more because of our errors than them being better,” Clark said. “Defensively and offensively we have things to work on and once we take care of those things that we need to work on and are able to implement them in a game situation, [then we’ll be fine].”
The first frame ended with the Crimson holding a slight advantage, 41-40. Harvard capitalized on the momentum generated by Evans’ threes to go up by 12 with six minutes remaining.
“I thought that it was a great team win and it feels really good to have that win under our belt,” Clark said. “With that being said, I think that we learned through this tournament about what we need to improve on and we’re still striving to play our best basketball, which we haven’t played yet.”
While Harvard came out on top, the team still totaled 29 turnovers compared to Cal Poly’s 13. The Mustangs converted 27 points off of the Crimson’s mistakes.
Cal Poly guard Jonae Ervin and center Molly Schlemer tallied 23 and 21 points, respectively.
“There’s a lot of growing room and we learned that for this game, but we haven’t reached our potential yet and we have to keep working hard every day in practice,” Dinkins said. “Overall, happy with the win, but definitely not satisfied.”
The Mustangs broke down the Harvard defense during the first half, making four of their 14 long-range attempts. The Crimson only shot five times from outside three in the first 20 minutes. However, Harvard’s total field goal percentage of 54 percent still trumped Cal Poly’s 38.6 percent.
“We’ve learned a lot, and we know that we’re better and our best basketball is yet to come,” Clark said. “We’re excited to play at home with the home crowd and keep the undefeated streak going.”
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