Women's Basketball Succumbs to Late Surge by NDSU, Falls 81-72 in Opener

The Crimson made 12 three-pointers in its season opener at North Dakota State (Gil Talbot).

FARGO, N.D. – Five Crimson scored in double-digits led by Christine Clark's 15, but North Dakota State used a late second-half run to pull away for an 81-72 victory over the Harvard women's basketball team on opening night.

Victoria Lippert and Temi Fagbenle added 12 points apiece while Emma Golen and Jasmine Evans chipped in 11. Harvard (0-1) shot 47.4 percent (27-57) for the game and held North Dakota State (1-0) to 38.5 percent (25-65) shooting, but the Crimson committed 23 turnovers which led to 30 Bison points. Evans, Golen and Miriam Rutzen each hit three three-pointers as Harvard combined to go 12-26 from beyond the arc.

Fagbenle rounded out her collegiate debut with a team-high eight rebounds and five assists to go with three blocks and three steals. Dani Degagne led all scorers with 19 points for NDSU with Katie Birkel chipping in 14.

Harvard came out sluggish but regained its form to even the score at eight on a Lippert jumper and drive by Clark. Following a three from Golen, Evans put the Crimson back on top, 13-12, with a layup in transition. Fagbenle drove through traffic to move the score to 15-14 in Harvard's favor, but North Dakota State responded with eight unanswered points to take a 22-15 margin.

Rutzen ended the drought with back-to-back three-pointers and Golen made it a one-point game, 27-26, with her second trey of the night. The Bison, however, maintained a slight lead for the remainder of the half and went into the locker room with a 38-33 advantage after a Janae Burich putback just beat the buzzer.

Harvard went 6-of-9 from three in the frame and shot 57.1 percent overall. Despite the hot shooting, NDSU found an advantage down low and outscored the Crimson 22-8 in the paint while maintaining a 22-14 edge on the glass. Rutzen led all scorers with nine points at the break and Golen added six, as the two combined to go 5-of-6 from deep.

Lippert hit her first three to open the second half, moving her into 13th place in program history for career points and breaking a tie with former WNBA star Allison Feaster '98 for third in career three's. That shot began a 10-5 stretch for the Crimson to tie the game at 43, but NDSU would not give up the lead and reopened a 48-43 margin. A Golen jumper and Clark layup pulled Harvard within one, 48-47, and Golen's third triple made it a 53-42 game with 11:39 to play.

The Bison pulled away with a 9-2 run for a 65-56 lead before a Marena Whittle jumper gave NDSU an 11-point advantage, 71-60, with just 3:12 remaining. Harvard scored five straight points off a Clark trey and Fagbenle putback to cut the deficit to 71-65, but North Dakota State went 10-of-12 from the line in the final 1:24 to secure the victory.

Game Notes: Senior Victoria Lippert moved into 13th place in program history for career scoring (1,120 pts.) and past former WNBA star Allison Feaster '98 for third place in career three's (136 3FG) … Sophomores Ali Curtis and Temi Fagbenle made their first career starts for the Crimson.