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Bulldogs Down Harvard for Second Straight Win

Jen Berkowitz
Jen Berkowitz

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The Bulldogs are heating up at the right time. 

For the second straight game, Yale defeated one of the Ivy League's top teams with a 57-52 victory over Harvard on Friday night at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.  With the win, the Bulldogs are one game out of the fourth and final spot for the Ivy League tournament.  

Jen Berkowitz matched her career high for a second straight game with 26 points and the Bulldogs did the little things throughout to defeat the Crimson for the first time since 2012.  Yale improved to 13-11 overall and 4-7 in Ivy play.

Down the stretch, the victory was sealed by hustle and defense.  Harvard fell to 19-5 overall and 7-4 in league play.

With 16 seconds left and Yale leading 54-52, Mary Ann Santucci missed a free throw.  Berkowitz kept the ball alive and Elizabeth Haley grabbed the offensive rebound. 

Haley was fouled with 15.1 seconds left and made one of two free throws to increase Yale's lead to three. Harvard regained possession with a chance to tie when the Bulldogs made another big play.

Harvard's Katie Benzan lined up a potential game-tying 3-pointer from the right corner when Lena Munzer blocked the shot with 5 seconds remaining.  Munzer (eight points) grabbed the ball, was fouled and made both free throws to close out the victory. 

"It was a total team effort and I was so proud of how our team fought"  said Joel E. Smilow head coach Allison Guth.  "We played with poise through Harvard's second half runs."

In a gritty performance, the Bulldogs overcame a five-point deficit with seven straight points midway through the fourth quarter.   

"I think ultimately it came down to the fight," Berkowitz said.  "We fought for loose balls and worked together."

Berkowitz started the rally with two made free throws, and after a Harvard turnover, converted on a layup to cut the deficit to 49-48.  The Bulldogs forced 20 Harvard turnovers.

On the next Harvard possession, Berkowitz blocked a shot and came up with the board.  Haley streaked down the court and delivered a three-point play to give Yale a 51-49 lead with 2:42 left.  

"We knew it was going to be a game of runs," Berkowitz said.  "Harvard is a great team, we just stuck together and played as a family." 

The Bulldogs, who made 25 of 35 free throws, received three more from Berkowitz in the final 2 minutes.  Berkowitz went 13-for-16 from line in the game.

Yale's defense stymied the Crimson in the first half that led to 12 turnovers.  The Bulldogs led 28-23 at the half.

On offense, Yale's ball movement led to Crimson fouls around the hoop.  The Bulldogs had 18 first-half free throw attempts and made 13.  

After the Crimson tied the game at 28 in the third, the Bulldogs scored the next seven points.  Berkowitz scored five straight and Tamara Simpson added a bucket to put the Bulldogs back in control. 

Simpson had seven points and a game-high four steals.  

The Bulldogs look to continue their climb in the conference standings on Saturday with their final home game of the season.  Yale will host Dartmouth at 7:30 p.m.  

Before the game, the Bulldogs will honor their three seniors -- Haley, Munzer and Meghan McIntyre.

Notes:  Before tonight's game, the Yale women's basketball program honored cancer survivors Jessie Guth (Allison's wife), Carrie Haley (mother of Elizabeth Haley) and Harvard head coach Kathy Delany-Smith.