MCCOOL JUNCTION - It was full speed ahead for the McCool girls, who led Harvard's Cardinals by eight through three periods. Then came the fourth quarter and a Cardinal rally.
Harvard got the win, the Cardinals' second against 11 losses on the season, by taking their first lead of the game at 2:37 of the fourth when Katie Bell hit one of two free throws to put Harvard in front by one, 37-36.
From there the Cardinals stayed just enough ahead to hold on at the end. McCool got it to 41-40 when Brooklyn Swantek made a slashing drive, hit the layup, drew the foul and downed the free throw.
Harvard answered immediately, but Valerie Hess hit a 2-pointer to make it 43-42 Cardinals.
Another driving shot by Swantek rolled tantalizingly around the rim, then crawled off in torturous slow motion.
One last free throw by Harvard forged the final score.
The Mustangs were up 13-8 after the first period and held a 27-16 lead at halftime.
Alecia Mertz led scoring for McCool with 15 points before fouling out with 3:30 to play. Swantek added nine. Hess and Tyra Johnson scored seven each. The Mustangs hit 18 field goals from two and went 6-11 at the line.
Tiana Barnes and Jennifer Callahan paced the Cardinals with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Bell added eight and Brenda Segura scored seven. For Harvard it was 15 twos, one trey and 11-23 free throws.
What turned the tide in the fourth?
"We missed some assignments on defense," said Coach Jarred Weiss. "We didn't defend the pick-and-roll as well in the fourth and they hurt us on the boards. It didn't help that Alecia fouled out, either." Weiss said winning is at least in part a learned behavior. "We have to learn to finish," he said.
The loss dropped McCool to 1-10 going into a stern challenge Friday on the road against a good Deshler team. Harvard improved to 2-11 and hits the road to Silver Lake on Friday.
Score by quarters
Harvard (2-11)............................10 6 10 18 - 44
McCool (1-10)........................13 14 7 8 - 42
Harvard (44) - S. Smith 1 0-0 2, K. Bell 2 4-6 8, M. Fisher 0 0-2 0, M. Schuck 0 2-2 2, B. Segura 3 1-2 7, J. Callahan 4 (1) 3-8 12, T. Barnes 6 1-2 13. Totals - 16 (1) 11-23 44.
McCool (42) - T. Johnson 2 3-6 7, C. White 2 0-0 4, V. Hess 3 1-2 7, A. Mertz 7 1-2 15, B. Swantek 4 1-1 9. Totals - 18 6-11 42.