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Crimson Headed to Omni Hotel Championship Game After Holding Off New Orleans, 60-57

Photo of Claire Wheeler courtesy of Gil Talbot.

BOULDER, Colo. – Junior co-captain Claire Wheeler scored a team-high 14 points, including eight in the second half to lead the Harvard women’s basketball team to a 60-57 win over New Orleans Friday afternoon in the first game of the Omni Hotels Classic at the Coors Events Center. The Crimson (3-2) will play for the Omni Hotel Championship Saturday night.

Wheeler was 4-for-5 from the field with a pair of threes and 4-for-4 effort from the charity stripe. Sophomore Brogan Berry reached double figures for the third straight game, scoring 13, all in the first half. Freshman Victoria Lippert had nine points and team-high six rebounds. Junior Emma Markley had six blocks and two steals in the winning effort.

Harvard and New Orleans battled back and forth in the first half. The Privateers scored first taking an early 4-0 lead. Berry and Christine Matera put the Crimson back in the game, while a Berry lay-up gave Harvard its first lead of the half with 12:42 left in the first. New Orleans regained the lead and held onto it until Berry capitalized on a three-point play and put her team up 21-19 with 3:58 on the clock. Markley, who had four blocks in the first stanza, blocked two shots in one possession, denying the Privateers the chance to tie the score.

On Harvard’s next trip down the court, sophomore Lindsay Louie fed Markley a pass under the basket and the Crimson had a four-point lead. After the Privateers scored on their end of the court, freshman Miram Rutzen drained her first career three-pointer and Harvard saw its lead grow to 26-21.

The Crimson headed into the locker room with a 32-26 lead.

Matera started the second session off with a three-pointer and Wheeler added two more treys over the next six minutes to help the Crimson maintain its lead. The Privateers used the next three minutes to cut into the Crimson advantage and take over the lead with 7:24 left to play. Less than two minutes later, Lippert nailed a three to put the lead back in the Crimson’s hands, 56-53. Candice McGee pulled the Privateers to within one at 56-55 with four minutes left to play. Nicole Holmes scored next for New Orleans putting her team up 57-56 with 2:54 remaining. Lippert hit two free throws and then nailed a jumper with 1:30 on the clock to give the Crimson the lead. Harvard denied the Privateers another score to hold on for the win.

The Crimson shot 36.4 percent from the field, 27/8 percent from three-point land and was a perfect 15-for-15 from the free throw line. Harvard had 10 blocks and nine steals in the game. New Orleans won the battle of the boards, outrebounding the Crimson, 53-26.

Harvard will face the winner of Colorado/Georgia Southern in the Omni Hotels Classic Championships game Saturday at 9 p.m.