Women’s Basketball Edges California in Home Opener, 56-53

Mackenzie Barta drives against a Cal defender at Lavietes Pavilion.
Photo by: Gil Talbot
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass – The Harvard women's basketball team (2-0, 0-0 Ivy) opened the doors to Lavietes Pavilion for the first time in the 2019-20 season by defeating California (0-1, 0-0 Pac-12) by a score of 56-53. The Crimson erased a 10-point half-time deficit in an electric environment Friday evening in Cambridge. 

First-year Lola Mullaney built on her impressive collegiate debut against Northern Illinois earlier in the week, scoring 14 points against the Golden Bears to lead the Crimson for a second consecutive game. Senior captain Mackenzie Barta put up a double-double for Harvard, scoring 10 while grabbing 12 boards. The Crimson shot 33 percent from the field and went 16-24 from the charity stripe. Sophomore Tess Sussman and senior Jeanie Boehm also scored in double-figures, adding 13 and 10 for Harvard, respectively.

Harvard jumped out to the early lead, holding the advantage throughout the first quarter. The Golden Bears added a late three-pointer as time expired to even the margin at 14 at the end of the first and led 29-19 lead heading to the half.

A pair of early lay-ups in the third from Mullaney cut Cal's lead to six and forced a Golden Bear timeout. Baskets from McCarthy and Boehm, and a pair of free throws from Mullaney helped cut the Golden Bear's lead to three. Barta drilled a three-pointer near the end of the third quarter to culminate a Crimson 20-point effort in the quarter, cutting the Golden Bear lead to two.

A lay-up from McCarthy with 7:12 left in the fourth evened the matchup at 43 for the first time since the end of the first quarter. A back-and-forth game ensued throughout the rest of the fourth, with Harvard matching each California basket. A Sussman make from the free throw line gave the Crimson the lead at 50-49 for the first time since the opening quarter, before a McCarthy-to-Sussman backdoor cut increased the lead to three. Free throws from Barta and Sussman helped the Crimson seal the win away.

Harvard Highlights
- Mullaney led the Crimson with 14 points, while Barta added a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
- Harvard outshot California 33 to 30 percent. 
- The Crimson tallied 10 steals against the Golden Bears.
- Harvard went 16-25 from the free throw line.

Game Notes
- The Crimson improves to 2-1 all-time over California and has won two straight over the past two years.
- Harvard moves to 2-0 for the first time to start a season since the 2010-11 campaign while winning its home opener for the fourth consecutive year.
- Harvard had four players in double figures for the first time since March 9, 2019 against Columbia.
- The contest had seven ties and two lead changes.

Up Next
Harvard will remain at home over the weekend and face off against Siena on Tuesday at Lavietes Pavilion. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.