Hempstead, NY - Shante Evans scored a game-high 24 points, but Harvard closed out overtime on a 9-2 run to post a 70-67 win over the Pride Saturday afternoon at the Mack Sports Complex. Hofstra had scored the last six points of regulation to force overtime and had led 65-61 in the extra session after scoring six of the first eight points.
Trailing 65-61, the Crimson scored five straight points to take a 66-65 lead on Miriam Rutzen's jumper with 58 seconds left. After a pair of Andreana Thomas free throws put Hofstra back up by one with 51 seconds to go, Harvard got a pair of free throws from Victoria Lippert that gave the Crimson the lead for good at 68-67 with 38 seconds left. Christine Clark added insurance with a pair of free throws with three seconds remaining.
The game was a rematch from last season's WNIT First Round contest, which was won by Harvard, 73-71. Harvard improves to 6-2 overall with its third straight win. Hofstra falls to 1-5 on the season with its fifth consecutive loss.
Evans added seven rebounds in the contest for the Pride, who also received 12 points and a career-high 13 rebounds from Anma Onyeuku and 11 points from Annie Payton. The Crimson got a team-high 21 points from Lippert and 14 points from Clark. Emma Golen was also in double-figures with 11 points.
The Crimson led at the half, 36-29, after closing out the period on a 9-2 run over the final 4:58. Hofstra had tied the game at 27 on an Onyeuku layup, but that was the last field goal of the half for the Pride. Harvard only managed four field goals the rest of the half, including a three-pointer from Golen with 33 seconds left that gave the Crimson its largest lead of the half and was the final bucket of the opening stanza.
Prior to the half-closing run, the half was a see-saw battle between the two teams. Hofstra scored the first four points on jumpers from Payton and Evans, and led 6-3 on a three-pointer from Thomas before Harvard scored four straight to take a 7-6 lead on Clark's free throw with 17:06 on the clock. The two teams would then exchange the lead 11 times the rest of the way.
Evans led all scorers in the first half with 11 points, while Clark paced Harvard with nine first-half points.
Hofstra would tie the score at 36 early in the second half, scoring seven straight points over the first 3:11. Evans had four points in the run, while Onyeuku added a basket and Thomas had a free throw.
Harvard would take the lead again, 38-36, on a pair of Lippert free throws and then Golen connected on a three-pointer to give the Crimson a 41-36 lead with 14:40 remaining. The Pride would score the next seven points to take a 43-41 lead on a pair of Thomas free throws. Back-to-back baskets from Golen and Melissa Mullins gave Harvard a 45-43 lead, before Payton put the Pride ahead, 46-45 with a three-pointer. Onyeuku would extend the lead to three with a fast break layup at the 9:27 mark.
But the Crimson stormed back with a 12-3 run to take a 57-51 lead with 3:37 remaining. Five different players scored for Harvard in the run. Hofstra cut the deficit to two, 59-57, on a pair of free throws from Evans and a jumper from Payton with 2:06 to play. Neither team would score, but Hofstra would force a turnover with 19 seconds left and called timeout to set up for a final possession.
Evans took the inbounds pass and was fouled with 13.6 seconds on the clock. The senior All-American would hit both and Harvard would miss a shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Before the game, Hofstra honored Evans in a ceremony to commemorate her breaking the school's all-time rebounding record against Marist on Nov. 28. Evans surpassed Kate Gordon's record of 1,031 career rebounds set in a career that spanned 1994-98. Evans, Gordon, Hofstra Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeffrey A. Hathaway were part of the presentation. The Pride also unveiled the 2012 WNIT banner in the Mack Sports Complex's rafters.Hofstra returns to action on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at Princeton.