Fagbenle's Double-Double Helps Lift Women's Basketball Past Columbia, 61-44

The Crimson won its fifth straight game behind another Fagbenle double-double (Gil Talbot).

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Harvard women's basketball team maintained control of its WNIT destiny with a 61-44 win at Columbia Friday night.

Harvard improved to 18-8 overall and 9-3 in the Ivy League with the victory, its fifth straight. Penn also won on Friday to preserve the tie for second place in the conference, defeating Brown 60-48. Princeton, thanks to its 76-46 win over Yale, can clinch the Ancient Eight title with a win on Saturday versus Brown.

Temi Fagbenle turned in her sixth double-double to pace Harvard with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while also adding two assists and two blocks. Victoria Lippert contributed 15 points and seven boards as nine different Crimson scored.

Harvard shot only 37.9 percent for the game but owned the low post to take the victory. The Crimson outrebounded Columbia (4-22, 2-10 Ivy League) by a 46-31 margin, outscored the Lions 32-22 in the paint and held a 22-10 edge in points in the paint. Columbia was led by Tyler Simpson's 19 points.

Harvard asserted itself early down low, scoring six points in the paint and outrebounding Columbia 8-4 to take a 10-6 lead at the first timeout. Fagbenle scored five straight points for the Crimson before the stoppage in play, with both her field goals coming off offensive rebounds. Baskets by Miriam Rutzen and Lippert from inside the key extended the margin to 14-6, and a 15-foot jumper from AnnMarie Healy made it an 8-0 run and a 16-6 lead for Harvard.

Columbia quickly cut its deficit to five, 16-11, and stayed within striking distance until a pair of offensive rebounds extended a possession for the Crimson which resulted in a Lippert three-pointer. That basket moved the score to 23-15 and jump started a 10-4 stretch to give Harvard a 30-19 edge at the break.

Harvard dominated the stat sheet in the first half with an 18-8 advantage in points in the paint, a 12-0 margin in second chance points and a 26-13 rebounding edge. Fagbenle led the way with six points and nine rebounds, including four offensive, as Lippert chipped in seven points and three rebounds. The Crimson struggled from the field, shooting just 37.5 percent (12-32), but controlled the lane on both ends of the court to hold Columbia to a 6-of-24 performance from the field.

It took Fagbenle just two possessions in the second half to finish off her double-double as she scored four straight points and grabbed one board to push the score to 34-19. A Lippert pull-up and free throws by Ali Curtis put Harvard on top 38-21, and after Curtis and Fagbenle hooked up on a full-court pass it was a 40-23 game with 14:35 remaining.

The Crimson maintained a comfortable margin throughout the remainder of the game and went ahead by as many as 21 points, 58-37, on a Jasmine Evans jumper. Healy added the final points of the night to give Harvard the final 61-44 spread.

Game Notes: Harvard has now won five straight games, the team's longest win streak since last season … The Crimson improves to 53-3 all-time against Columbia and 28-0 against the Lions in New York City … Temi Fagbenle registered her sixth double-double of the year with 14 points and 12 rebounds, the most for the Crimson since Emma Markley '11 turned in seven double-doubles in 2009-10 … Temi Fagbenle has led the Crimson in rebounding in 13 of the team's last 17 games.