Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot Photography.
The Harvard women’s basketball team started the season off young and unproven but by season’s end, the 11-woman team showed that no matter how young or old your team is, working together and playing with heart and soul can bring out the best and lead to success.
The Crimson, who went 20-9 overall and 11-3 in the Ivy League, posted its first 20 win season since 2004-05 and made its eighth postseason appearance under head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. Harvard went to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament for the second year in a row, marking the third time in four years the Crimson played in the postseason.
Harvard made history by defeating all five Division I opponents in the state of Massachusetts. The Crimson started the trek in its season opener against Boston College, handing the Eagles an 82-81 defeat. Harvard followed its victory with wins over Holy Cross, Boston University and Northeastern at home in December. The Crimson started the new year off with a win at UMass to give Harvard a perfect 5-0 mark against its Bay State foes. Harvard also posted non-conference wins over Maine, Navy, New Orleans and NJIT.
Junior Emma Markley was one of three Crimson players to earn All-Ivy League honors and one of four to average double-digit scoring on the season. For the second year in a row, the Yorktown Heights, N.Y., native led the Crimson in scoring (14.0 ppg), rebounding (7.0 rpg) and blocks (2.7 bpg). She earned a spot on the first-team for the first time in her career.
Sophomore Brogan Berry, who was third on the team and ninth in the league in scoring (11.9 ppg), earned a spot on the second-team. She led the league and was among the top 15 in the nation in assists, averaging 5.8 per game. She handed out 169 assists this season, which is second on the single season assist lists and combined with 100 handed outs from a season ago, stands ninth on the all-time assists list at Harvard with 269 helpers.
Freshman Victoria Lippert earned a spot on the second team and was name to the All-Rookie team as well. She was second on the team and fifth in the league in scoring (13.1 ppg). She was the team’s best shooter, connecting on 46.2 percent of her shots.
Junior co-captain Christine Matera also averaged double figures for the Crimson (10.3 ppg) and led the league in three-point field goals. Matera had the touch from beyond the arc, making 40.1 percent of her shots which was sixth in the Ivy League. Classmate Jackie Alemany was a force to reckon with on defense not only crashing the boards, but picking pockets. She was eighth in the Ivy League in rebounds (6.6 rpg) and sixth in steals (1.6 spg).
Junior Claire Wheeler, who saw limited playing time due to an injury, was a spark off the bench contributing 5.3 ppg and 2.7 rpg. Freshmen Elle Hagedorn and Miriam Rutzen contributed solid minutes in their rookie season, averaging 3.4 and 3.2 ppg, respectively.
Harvard led the league in free throw percentage, three-point field goal percentage, three-point field goals made, blocked shots and assists. The Crimson was second in scoring, field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense.
Probably the best part of the 2009-10 season is that all 11 players will return next season to do it all over again. This time, the experienced Crimson will again be a strong contender for the programs 12th Ivy League title and seven NCAA tournament appearance.