Yale was traveling from Hanover to Harvard Friday night and coming off a 97-53 home thrashing by Columbia a week before against a Crimson squad that had taken down mighty Princeton the same day. It seemed like a recipe for defeat.
But first-year coach Dalila Eshe’s team delivered a Saturday night stunner by pulling out a 71-70 overtime win at Lavietes Pavilion.
It was the first Yale-Harvard game for both Eshe and Harvard coach Carrie Moore helming their programs and Yale’s first victory at Lavietes since January 27, 2012.
Yale (8-8, 2-1 Ivy) came out strong and led 35-23 at the half, shooting 46% from the field.
“We did an exceptional job of running our offense early on and got high-quality shots,” Eshe said.
Yale took an 18-point lead in the third quarter, but Harvard, behind senior guard Maggie McCarthy and sophomore guard Harmoni Turner, cut the lead to eight at the end of the quarter.
Harvard (9-6, 2-1) dominated the last stanza and led 57-49 with 3:45 to play.
An offensive rebound and putback from junior guard Klara Astrom brought Yale within three with 45 seconds left. A turnover by Turner, caused by pressure defense from Yale sophomore guard Nyla McGill, led to a three by a wide open Astrom to knot the game.
Turner finished with a game-high 26 points on 10-for-24 shooting, but Eshe said that McGill “did an unbelievable job on Harmoni.”
Yale opened up a six-point lead in overtime, thanks to a three-pointer from first-year guard Kiley Capstraw.
A jumper by junior guard Lola Mullaney and a trey by Turner got Harvard within one, but Yale held on for the hard-fought victory, as a desperation shot at the buzzer by Turner fell off the back of the rim.
McGill led Yale with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Yale had a strong contingent of fans at the game.
Yale hosts Cornell on Saturday at 3 p.m. and Harvard is at Columbia on Saturday at noon in a key Ivy clash.