The Madness Continues
The Crimson exit NIT in last-second thrillers
By ELIZABETH GUMMER
Both the Women’s and Men’s Crimson basketball teams brought their season to a close this past Sunday, each losing in the second round of their respective post season tournaments. Both teams advanced from their first rounds earlier in the week, but were not as successful in their following match ups.
The men’s team played first, travelling to Washington, DC for their first game in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) game against Georgetown on Wednesday Night. The 71-68 Crimson win over the Hoyas was a minor upset, with the 6th place seed overtaking the 3rd. Chris Lewis started the game off with a layup in the first 20 seconds of play and set the tone for Harvard to lead in the majority of the first half. Entering the second half a point down, Justin Bassey scored a quick 3-pointer to bring them back into the lead; going into the last minute up by only two points, Bryce Aiken responded to Georgetown’s late game 3-pointer with 4 free throw shots, securing Harvard’s win.
On the women’s side, the team competed in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) for the ninth time in the history of the program. They played both WNIT games on their home court, Lavietes Pavilion, a first for the program. Matched up against Drexel on Friday night, the Crimson women held a steady lead over the opposing team for the entirety of the game. Led in points by Junior Katie Benzan, four women scored in the double digits; Sydney Skinner, Madeline Raster, Jadyn Bush, and Katie Benzan were responsible for 54 of the 69 points scored by the Harvard team. Starting out with an early 6 point lead, the Crimson cruised to a 69-56 win over the Dragons and advanced to the second round of the tournament.
Both teams entered the second round of play on Sunday night, with the women at home, the men at North Carolina State in Raleigh, NC. The women played the Georgetown Hoyas in Cambridge, offering a slight home court advantage. Trailing in the first half, Harvard team was down 37-26 when the buzzer went off. However, the Crimson women worked to even the score, scoring 16 points to the Hoya’s 9 within minutes, and closed out the quarter down only 5 points. Overtaking Georgetown with just over 2 minutes to go, Senior Madeline Raster scored a layup, taking the score to 65-64 for the Crimson. But in the final 30 seconds the Hoyas managed to scrape together 6 points, edging out Harvard for a win of 70-65.
The men at Raleigh faced similar misfortune, with a tense late game shot deciding their fate. Though they trailed behind NC State for most of the first half, the Crimson picked their game up with notable contributions from both junior Chris Lewis and freshman Noah Kirkwood. Coming back from a 12 point deficit, the Crimson closed out the first half with a 1 point lead on the 39-38 score. Facing intense back and forth in the second half of the game, the team entered the last 2 minutes of play time down only 1 point. Though they dropped down to a 5 point deficit with only 27 seconds left, Sophomore Rio Haskett scored a promising 3-pointer, and followed up with another in the final 3 seconds of play. Ultimately the men’s efforts weren’t quite enough to secure a play in the NIT third round, as they fell 77-78 to NC State in a thrilling finish.
Elizabeth Gummer (email@example.com) patiently waits for next year, when the team will finally make it to March Madness.