Harvard sweeps post-Thanksgiving doubleheader at Lavietes

The Harvard women and men hosted a pair of cross-town rivals on Saturday.  Things didn’t look so great for the home teams early, but strong second-half performances gave both teams big wins and sent the crowd home happy.

Harvard women 82, Boston University 79

Career-high performances from junior guard McKenzie Forbes and first-year guard Harmoni Turner sparked a furious second-half comeback as Harvard defeated Boston University, 82-79, in the opening game.

The undersized Crimson (2-4) were being dominated by the Terriers (2-4) throughout the first 23 minutes, with the visitors opening up a 50-31 advantage.  As the game was slipping away and Harvard staring at its thirds straight defeat, Turner, the ESPN Top-50 prospect from Texas, hit back-to-back three pointers in a 15-second span.  Another deep shot from sophomore guard Kennedy Heath a minute later cut the deficit to 10 and swung momentum in the favor of the hosts.

Turner’s stepback three from the top of the key with 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter got Harvard to within four points, but a layup from Sydney Johnson (no, not that Sydney Johnson) gave BU a 59-53 lead heading into the last frame.

Quick triples from Turner and Forbes, along with a pair of free throws from Turner, got the Crimson within a bucket two minutes into the fourth quarter.  Then a deep three from the right elbow for Forbes a minute later gave Harvard its first lead, 64-63, since it was up one at the end of the first quarter.

The teams would trade the lead four times, before Johnson blocked Turner and made an old fashioned three-point play on a contested layup to put the Terriers up 79-77 with just under two minutes remaining in regulation.

A minute later, sophomore guard Lola Mullaney intercepted a pass from Maren Durant off a BU offensive rebound, and junior guard Maggie McCarthy hit a layup to tie the game at 79.  A missed jumper from Johnson gave the Crimson the ball back with just under 30 ticks left on the clock.

Turner dribbled the ball on the right side of the midcourt line for about 20 seconds before getting it over to Forbes.  The Folsam, Calif. native was given too much space by her opponents and calmly waited for the clock to wind down before launching the successful three-pointer, her sixth of the day, near the top of the key.

Harvard shot 47% from two and 44% from three for the game with 60% from inside the arc and 64% in the decisive second half.  Defensively, the Crimson allowed 71% from two and 56% (10-for-18) from three.  They also allowed the Terriers to control the inside, giving BU a +12 and +15% advantage on the boards and a +22 edge with points in the paint.  The Crimson made up for this by forcing 24 turnovers and scoring 30 points, while the Terriers could only get Harvard to give the ball up seven times and score nine points.

Forbes finished with 26 points (59% shooting), eclipsing her previous high of 22 points when she played for Cal against Harvard in December 2018.  Turner ended up with 24 points, with 18 points on a 7-for-11 shooting effort in the second half.  Mullaney added 14 points, while McCarthy pitched in five points and a team-high seven rebounds.

Coach Kathy Delaney-Smith’s squad will look to make it two in a row when it hosts Merrimack on Tuesday at 6 p.m.  After that, the Crimson head to the ASU Classic to take on Colorado State and Arizona State next weekend.

Harvard men 77, Northeastern 57

The Crimson men would also need to recover from a second half double-digit deficit but put things away a little earlier than their classmates in the late game.

Northeastern (3-4) held a two point lead after the first 10 minutes before going on a 21-7 run to make it 39-23 with 3:30 to go in the half.  Late three-pointers from Louis Lesmond and Luka Sakota, along with a pair of free throws by Chris Ledlum, brought Harvard (5-2) to within 10, 41-31, as the teams went to the locker room.

The Crimson came out hot at the start of the second half, using a 15-5 run to knot the game at 46 before the first media break.  With the game tied at 49, Harvard would use three-balls from Noah Kirkwood, Lesmond, and Samuel Silverstein to open up a 61-49 advantage with 8:35 left in regulation.

A tip-in by the Huskies’ Chris Doherty a minute later cut the host’s lead to nine, but that was as close as Northeastern would get.  The Crimson would stretch the lead to a game-high twenty points later in the half, before coach Tommy Amaker emptied the bench.

Harvard made 12 three-pointers on 48% shooting on the day, as well as making 53% of their two-pointers.  In the all-important second half, their numbers increased to eight threes on 67% outside shooting and 62% from inside the arc, while they held Northeastern to 17% from two and 25% (2-8) from three.  Even with most of their top forwards still on the bench with injuries, Harvard held a 34-33 advantage on the glass and was plus-four with points in the paint. 

Ledlum led the way for the victors with a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds.  Kirkwood and Idan Tretout each added four three-pointers with Kirkwood finishing with 14 points and Tretout adding eight.

The Crimson men, winners of two in a row and four of their last five, will return to action against Rhode Island on Wednesday.  The home game will be available on ESPN+ at 7 p.m.