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March 15, 2012

Berry, Clark Lead Harvard Women's Basketball to Ivy League's First WNIT Win, 73-71

Story and photo courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications

HEMPTSTEAD, N.Y. -- Brogan Berry and Christine Clark combined for 49 points as the Harvard women's basketball team knocked off Hofstra Thursday night, 73-71, to become the first team in Ivy League history to record a win in the WNIT. With the victory, Harvard advances to the tournament's second round and will now face Temple Saturday, March 17 at 6 p.m. in Philadelphia.

The Ivy League entered this year's tournament a combined 0-5 in the WNIT since 2007 when it first earned an automatic bid. For Harvard, it marks the team's first victory in three tries at the tournament and improves the program to 2-8 all-time in the postseason. The Crimson is also the only program in Ivy League history to record a win in the NCAA Tournament, and did so in 1998 when it became the only No. 16 seed to upset a No. 1 seed on either the men's or women's side with a 71-67 victory over Stanford.

Berry dominated the game in the first half, scoring 19 of her 26 points on 7-of-8 shooting while going 4-of-5 from three. She finished the game shooting 9-of-16 from the field and 5-of-9 from three, and added five rebounds and four assists. Berry reached several milestones in the victory, including moving into sole possession of second place in Harvard history and fourth place in the Ivy League with 521 career assists. Berry is also now the 27th leading scorer in Ancient Eight annals with 1,437 points, and is tied with former teammate Christine Matera '11 for the program record with 115 appearances.

Clark went 9-of-15 from the floor and 3-of-5 from three for her 23 points, and added seven rebounds. Victoria Lippert chipped in nine points while Emma Golen led the efforts on the glass with 10 boards. Elle Hagedorn grabbed seven rebounds to go with her three assists.

Hofstra (19-12) was led by Shante Evans' 24-point, 16-rebound double-double. The Pride held a 38-30 edge in points in the paint and a 20-5 advantage in second-chance points, but shot 36.5 percent to Harvard's (18-11) 46.8 percent. Candace Bond and Nicole Capurso added 18 points and 13 points, respectively.

Hofstra scored the game's first points but Berry's first three and a layup by Clark put the Crimson in front, 5-3. A second Berry three-pointer made it an 8-3 game and Harvard led 10-5 following a Golen jumper. Berry continue to have the hot hand early, draining two more from long range for an 16-9 advantage with 12:05 remaining.

The Pride pulled within 22-18 off a jumper by Marie Malone before Berry took over again to help Harvard to its first double-digit lead of the night, 29-19. Back-to-back baskets by Hagedorn and Berry made it an eight-point game, and Berry followed a Hofstra basket with an and-one for the 10-point edge. An 8-2 run by Hofstra momentarily cut the deficit to three, 33-30, but Clark outscored the Pride 7-2 over the final 2:36 to take a 40-32 lead into the break.

Berry led all scorers with 19 first-half points, shooting 7-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-5 from three. Clark added 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting as the Crimson hit 57.1 percent (16-28) of its attempts in the frame. Hofstra held a 22-18 edge on the glass but shot just 31.6 percent while going 2-of-8 from three.

Harvard opened the second half on a 5-0 run with Miriam Rutzen draining a three from the corner and Lippert getting an open layup on a secondary break. Eight straight points by Hofstra in response pulled the Pride within five, 45-40, but the Crimson came right back with a 12-4 stretch to move the score to 57-46 with 12:41 remaining. Jumpers by Clark and Golen opened the run and Clark hit her second three-pointer of the night to make it seven straight points for Harvard. After a pair of Pride baskets cut the lead to 52-46, Lippert followed a Berry jumper with her first three for the 11-point margin.

The Crimson's lead reached as many as 13 points on a Lippert jumper, but Hofstra continued to hang in the game with its strong inside presence. A 9-0 run by the Pride pulled Hofstra to within four, but yet another three by Berry on the ensuing possession pushed the score to 66-59. Bond scored on Hofstra's next possession to make it a five-point game before Clark responded from behind-the-arc for a 69-61 lead with 4:10 to play.

Harvard was unable to put the game away, however, as the Pride made one last push and cut the lead to one, 69-68, on a three from Katelyn Loper. Lippert missed a pair of three-point attempts on Harvard's next possession but Rutzen came down with the first rebound and Clark grabbed the second, and laid it in for a 71-68 edge. Berry added a pair of free throws with 0:24 remaining to move the score to 73-68 before Loper hit a second three for the final 73-71 margin.

Game Notes: Harvard became the first team in Ivy League history to win a game in the WNIT and improved to 2-8 all-time in the postseason … Harvard is also the only Ivy League program to ever win a game in the NCAA Tournament, and became the only No. 16 seed to upset a No. 1 seed on either the men's or women's side with a 71-67 victory over Stanford on March 14, 1998 … Brogan Berry moved into sole possession of second place in Harvard history and fourth place in the Ivy League with 521 career assists … Brogan Berry is also now the 27th leading scorer in Ivy League annals with 1,437 points and is tied for first in program history with 115 career appearances.