WNIT recap: Big East foes sweep Harvard and Penn to end season

Georgetown (18-15) 70 at Harvard (17-13) 65

The Harvard women found themselves down 14 points midway through the second quarter and 11 at the half, before rallying to take the lead with 2:45 left in regulation.  Georgetown senior Dionna White would respond with a go-ahead coast-to-coast layup with 33 seconds left to put the Hoyas in the lead for good and clinched second round WNIT victory over Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion on Sunday afternoon.

Georgetown took a 37-26 lead after 20 minutes on the strength of the White and Nikola Kovacikova’s inside shooting.  The senior and first-year guards scored a combined 31 points on 9-for-12 shooting from inside the arc over the first two quarters.  Kovacikova’s 12 points helped offset the 1-for-6 performance from Dorothy Adomako and the absence of Mikayla Venson, the team’s first and third leading scorers.

The Crimson struggled with their offense in the first two quarters, making only 32 percent of their shots.  Rachel Levy came off the bench to lead the team with eight points on 2-for-3 shooting, but Jeannie Boehm’s six points came on 3-for-10 effort and Katie Benzan was 0-for-2 from deep.  On the other side, Harvard allowed the Hoyas’ speedy guards to shoot 48 percent from two and force seven turnovers, leading to 13 points.

Harvard caught a break when Kovacikova picked up her third foul and White was called for her fourth halfway through the third quarter.  With both players spending time on the bench, the Crimson battled back to a make it a four-point game.  After the refs mistakenly said that Benzan knocked a ball out of bounds under the Harvard basket, White drove the lane and hit a spinning layup to make it a 53-47 game after 30 minutes.

The game stayed between a four and six-point difference in favor of Georgetown until Jeannie Boehm hit a layup at the 4:35 mark and then made one of two free throws with 3:53 left to cut the deficit to one, 64-63.  With the clock at 2:47, senior co-captain Madeline Raster hit a driving layup from the left side to give Harvard its first lead of the game at 65-64.

With under a minute to go and the same score, Raster got the ball to Rachel Levy under the basket and she missed the layup.  White grabbed the rebound and took it all the way to the basket to give the lead back to the Hoyas.  On the next possession, Raster had the ball along the left baseline, but it came out of her hands with 17 seconds left.  After Georgetown hit two free throws to make it 68-65, Harvard had a chance to tie, but Benzan’s three from the right key was blocked by White.

The Hoyas were held to only 30 percent shooting in the second half, including a 0-for-5 effort from three.  The one player who could hit the basket was White, who ended up scoring 19 points in the last two quarters.  The first team All-Big East guard, who has scored over 2,000 points in her career, finished the day with a career-high 38 points, making 11-for-15 shots from the field and 15 of 16 from the free throw line (11-for-12 in the second half).  She also added 12 rebounds (three offensive) and four assists to go along with her game-saving block.

Harvard made 42 percent from the field with 38 percent (3-for-8) from three in the third quarter. In the fourth, however, they struggled from the field with only 39 percent overall and 17 percent (1-for-6) shooting from beyond the arc.  In addition, they could not keep up at the line in the second half, as they made only five of eight while their opponents sank 19 of 22.

Harvard finished the day with four double-digit scorers – Boehm (17), Benzan (13), Levy (10) and Jadyn Bush (10). Raster just missed out in that group, ending with nine points.  Raster and Sydney Skinner end their careers with the loss, but the Crimson will look to regroup for 2019-20 where they will try to use a balanced lineup and home court advantage to capture the Ivy League’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Providence (19-15) 64 vs Penn (24-7) 54

Penn used a 10-0 run over the last five minutes of the third quarter to get within one, 38-37, with 10 minutes left in its second-round battle with Providence. Much like their fourth-quarter effort against Princeton last Sunday, the Quakers ran out of steam late and lost to the Friars in their second-round match.  Providence will now host Georgetown on Tuesday night in the Round of 16, while Penn is done for the year.

The first quarter ended with the Friars ahead 13-9.  Both teams struggled from the field, as Penn and Providence shooting 22 and 31 percent, respectively.  The Quakers won the rebounding battle 16-9 with eight offensive boards, but could only manage one second-chance point.  Meanwhile, they turned the ball over five times, leading to eight points for Providence.

Penn was down one, 19-18, after first year forward Mary Baskerville fouled Princess Aghayere and the Quakers senior sank both free throws at the 6:05 mark of the second quarter.  When Baskerville, who had 13 points and seven rebounds to that point, went to the bench, her teammates responded with a 10-2 run and went to the locker room with a 29-20 lead.

The Red & Blue had another rough quarter with 29 percent shooting and one made three pointer. They also had four more turnovers leading to six additional points for Providence, while they could not put up any points on Providence’s three turnovers.  The Friars continued to be held without a three pointer, but they did manage to shoot 50 percent from two.

With the score 38-27 five minutes into the third quarter and Eleah Parker on the bench, Penn closed out the quarter on a 10-0 run. The Quakers clamped down on defense, holding Providence to 24 percent shooting, one three-pointer and no free throw attempts.  On offense, they shot 50 percent from two and three, while making all five of their free throw attempts. They committed four more turnovers, but only allowed the Friars to score two points.

After two deep threes from Jovana Novic helped Providence build up a five point lead, Phoebe Sterba hit a three to make it 47-45 with 6:16 left in regulation.  The Friars then went on a 8-0 run and forced three Penn turnovers, before Ashley Russell made her second three of the quarter to leave the Quaker down 55-48 with 1:17 remaining.

Free throws from double fouls on Penn’s Tori Crawford and Providence’s Bakersville left the Friars lead at 56-50.  The Quakers got the ball back from the unsportsmanlike foul on Bakersville, but Russell and Sterba each missed three pointers.  Over the next 40 seconds, first year guard Kaela Webb sank six straight free throws and Nogic made the last two to seal the win for Providence.

In the decisive last frame, both teams shot well from the line (Providence 10-11 and Penn 6-6), but the Friars shot 64 percent from the field and Penn only made 31 percent. The Quakers again were plagued by turnovers, coughing the ball up five times in the last 10 minutes and allowing Providence seven more points.

The Friars shot 19 percent (3-for-16) from three, but made 47 percent from two and 88 percent (15-for-17) from the free throw line.  They also scored 23 points off 18 forced Penn turnovers, had a draw on the boards (38-37 in favor of Penn with both teams having 17 offensive rebounds) and held a 15-7 advantage in second chance points.  The Quakers made 93 percent (14-for-15) of their free throws but only 34 percent from two and 26 percent (6-for-23) from beyond the arc.

Providence’s Baskerville led all players with 20 points on 8-for-17 shooting, as well as 15 rebounds (nine offensive).  Nogic had 13 points on 4-for-15 shooting from the field.  Webb scored 10 points on the strength of her 8-for-8 performance from the free throw line.  The Red & Blue were led by their seniors, Aghayere (15 points on 5-for-17 shooting and 13 rebounds) and Ashley Russell (15 points on 5-for-11 shooting and four assists).  Parker, the team’s leading scorer, only had six points along with five rebounds and five blocks in 21 minutes of limited action.

Sunday’s defeat marked Penn’s second straight loss to a Big East opponent in the second round of the WNIT after season’s loss to St. John’s.  Next year’s team will be without Aghayere, Russell, Deja Jackson, and Kristen Daley due to graduation.  For the second straight year, coach Mike McLaughlin will be without a significant portion of his starting five.  If the team can get former role players to step-up into the starting lineup like they did this year, the Quakers will find themselves back battling for the top spot of the Ancient Eight.