TEMPE, Ariz. – Harvard women's basketball could not sustain a 23-point lead, falling to Long Beach State, 72-67, in the first round of the ASU Classic Saturday. The Crimson was unable to capitalize on the third double-double of the season from junior forward Temi Fagbenle (15 points, 14 rebounds).
The 14 rebounds matched a career high for Fagbenle. The Crimson (6-3) also saw contributions from junior forward Erin McDonnell (13 points) and senior guard Jasmine Evans (11 points, five rebounds, four assists). Evans earned her first career start for the Crimson.
Long Beach State (5-2) was paced by Raven Benton, who scored 21 points off the bench, including an 11-of-14 performance from the free throw line.
The Crimson scored the first nine points of the second half and built its largest lead of the game, 51-28, with 16:04 to play. After holding serve for the next three minutes, the 49ers shifted the momentum, exploding for 23 of the next 25 points and pulling within one, 60-59. LBSU took its first lead of the game with three minutes remaining, 64-63, and would hit its free throws down the stretch to hold on, 72-67.
The 49ers outscored the Crimson 46-28 in the second half, rebounding from a 24.2 percent showing in the first to shoot 41 percent over the final 20 minutes. LBSU also got to the free throw line 20 times, making 18, in the second stanza, while Harvard shot just four free throws, connecting once.
Evans posted five early points as Harvard jumped out to a 14-4 lead over the first 6:12. The 49ers hit back-to-back treys to pull within four, but the Crimson continued to put the pressure on and a Kit Metoyer three at the 9:04 mark pushed Harvard's lead back to 12, 24-12.
LBSU's Hallie Meneses answered with a triple of her own, but Harvard swelled its lead to as many as 16, heading into the locker room with a 39-26 advantage. For the stanza, the Crimson shot 48.5 percent from the field and held the 49ers to just 8-of-33 (24.2 percent) shooting. Harvard also controlled the paint, outscoring LBSU 18-8 over the first 20 minutes.
Harvard wraps up day two of the ASU Classic with the loser of the Arizona State/Sacred Heart game. The contest will be at 2 p.m. ET.
Game Notes: Temi Fagbenle posted her 10th career double-double (15 points, 14 rebounds) and third of the season. Fagbenle has scored double-figures 26 times in her career. Erin McDonnell scored in double-digits (13) for the fifth time this season and third time over the last four games. Jasmine Evans posted her third double-digit game of the season. Harvard has held its opponent to under 30 percent shooting in a half four times this season. Harvard went with the starting lineup of Curtis, Evans, Mullins, Fagbenle and McDonnell for the first time this season. It marked Evans first start of her career.