Hempstead, N.Y. - Junior forward Shante Evans netted 15 of her 24 points in the second half and grabbed 16 rebounds but the Pride could not complete its comeback attempt in falling to Harvard, 73-71, in a Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) first round matchup on Thursday night at the Mack Sports Complex.
Harvard's Brogan Berry scored 19 of her 26 total points in the opening half and Christine Clark added 23 points for the Crimson (18-11). Harvard advanced to the WNIT second round and will play Temple.
Evans went 10-for-11 from the free-throw line for 18th double-double of the season and the 50th of her career. Hofstra ended its season 19-12 after making its third WNIT appearance since 2007. Junior Candace Bond added 18 points and seven rebounds.
Playing in their final collegiate games, senior guard Nicole Capurso scored 13 points, tallied four assists and set a season high with six steals. Fellow senior guard Candice Bellocchio racked up seven assists and two steals in her collegiate finale.
Down as much as 13 points in the second half, Hofstra moved within 69-68 with 1:26 left when Katelyn Loper drilled a far left-wing three-pointer. Capurso generated a steal near midcourt, setting up Loper's second trey of the game to make it a one-possession game for the first time since six minutes into the contest.
Hofstra then forced two Harvard missed shot before Clark's third-chance put-back put Harvard ahead, 71-68. Capurso missed a three-pointer the next trip down with 43 seconds left and Berry made both free throws for a five-point Harvard lead.
But Loper ensured Hofstra had same late life, hitting a long-range three-pointer with less than nine seconds left to make it 73-71. The Pride had fouls to give and after failing to get a steal, Clark went to the line with seven seconds left before missing the front end of a one-and-one.
That gave the Pride a chance to tie it before the buzzer. Bond drove the lane, but was unable to get a successful shot off, ending the game and improving Harvard to 4-3 in the all-time series.
Both teams mounted runs in a back-and-forth second half. Hofstra tightened its defense from the first half, holding Harvard scoreless for nine consecutive shots en route to an 8-0 run that brought the Pride within 45-40 with 15:42 left.
Harvard responded with a 7-0 run on Clark's top-of-the-key three-pointer for a 52-40 edge. Capurso then scored the last of three consecutive Hofstra baskets by converting Candace Bond's outlet pass for layup.
The Crimson regained momentum on Berry's mid-range jump shot and Victoria Lippert's second three-pointer of the game put Harvard ahead, 57-46, with 12:41 remaining.
Evans tried to spark a Pride comeback, hauling in an offensive rebound and completing a three-point play. Following a defensive stop, Bellocchio found Evans on the low-post and the forward powered through for a layup to cut it to 63-55 with 7:44 left.
Harvard called timeout, though Hofstra was able to complete a 9-0 run on Bond's jumper to make it 63-59. Berry and Clark connected on three-pointers to re-establish a three-possession lead before Hofstra's late run.
Senior center Marie Malone contributed eight points and six rebounds in her last game for the Pride. Overall, the Pride posted a 17-11 edge on the offensive glass with Evans grabbing 10 of those boards by herself. Hofstra also out-scored Harvard, 20-5, on second-chance points after generating 25 Crimson turnovers.
Harvard's strong shooting early in the contest propelled the Crimson to a quick lead. Berry connected on her first five field goal attempts-including her first four three-pointers-in scoring 19 points to lift Harvard to a 40-32 halftime edge.
After going down as much as 10, Hofstra went on an 11-4 run to get as close as three points before the Crimson ended the half on a 7-2 run.
Capurso played her 119th career game for Hofstra, moving into sixth place on the team's all-time list.