If the Tigers play like they did in the first half, we will be seeing both the men’s and women’s teams fighting for a tournament title on Sunday. Princeton capitalized on a sluggish Harvard offense to take a 25-16 lead into halftime. While many in the building seemed tired after 3 thrilling games earlier in the day, the Tigers did their part to energize Princeton’s faithful fans and build a 9 point lead.
The first quarter started off fairly slow for both teams as neither offense could find their rhythm. The first points of the game came off of a bucket by sophomore Sydney Jordan and a made free throw by senior Leslie Robinson, which gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead with 6:21 to go in the quarter. After a layup by Harvard sophomore Madeline Raster, the Tigers put up the next 7 points, including a 3 by freshman Bella Alarie, to take a 10-4 lead. But Harvard came back with a run of their own, scoring 5 points in about 40 seconds of back-to-back baskets by Raster and freshman Katie Benzan. The quarter ended when Taylor Rooks of Harvard beat the buzzer, bringing Harvard back to within one as time expired.
The offense remained dormant in the second quarter as well. Most of the points scored in the half were free throws by both sides, including 4 by senior Vanessa Smith and 2 by sophomore Gabrielle Rush. Having trailed in the beginning of the second quarter by 1, back-to-back buckets by Robinson gave the Tigers a 16-13 lead with 6:00 to go in the half. After a long period in which we only saw free throws, senior Taylor Brown excited the crowd by turning a Harvard turnover into a fastbreak layup with 2:01 to go, giving the Tigers a 21-16 lead. The Tigers offense concluded the half with a bang after senior Jackie Reyneke grabbed an offensive rebound and beat the buzzer with a layup to increase the Tiger lead to 9.
Robinson led the way with 7 points for the Tigers, while Alarie and Smith each had 5. Senior guard Taylor Brown has done her part in spreading the wealth, already having 5 assists in the game. Alarie has — as usual — dominated the glass; she has 6 rebounds, which has helped given the Tigers the edge on the boards once again. Despite the Tigers having 10 turnovers, the defense has prevented Harvard from getting much of anything; the Crimson only shot 23 percent from the field for the half and only made 1 three pointer. Raster leads the Crimson with 4 points.
With one final half to go on what had been a crazy Saturday in the Ivy League, the Tigers will hope to hold the lead and join the men on championship Sunday.