CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Sophomore guard Madeline Raster notched a career-high 24 points, and freshman guard Katie Benzan added her first career double-double with 19 points and 10 assists to lift Harvard women's basketball (18-3, 6-2 Ivy League) to a decisive 76-56 win over Yale (11-10, 2-6 Ivy League) at Lavietes Pavilion.
"This game we extended a lead," said head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. "It's the first time we've done that all season, and really the first game we've won by 20. I think we're capable of this."
Senior forward Destiny Nunley added 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks for Harvard, which shot a season high 57.1% from the floor (28-for-49), with 20 assists.
The Crimson offense was clicking early, as Harvard hit its first four shots from deep while shooting 8-of-12 in the first quarter. Raster knocked down three triples and Benzan added a three-pointer of her own, adding four assists in the opening 10 minutes.
Harvard was able to move the ball around efficiently throughout the frame, with seven assists on eight field goals as the Crimson took a 20-10 lead after the first quarter.
Harvard extended its lead to 13 with 6:09 to play in the second, taking a 27-14 lead over the visiting Bulldogs. Benzan converted an old fashioned three-point play and sophomore Sydney Skinner scored four-straight points to push the lead to double-digits.
Yale answered with a 10-1 run to cut the deficit to four (28-24) with 2:39 to go in the half.
But sophomore guard Nani Redford put an end to the Yale spurt, finishing a tough jumper in the lane and following it with a deep two to keep the Bulldogs in check. Benzan added a three from the top of the key right before the halftime buzzer, and Harvard took a 35-26 lead into the intermission.
Nunley scored three points over in the opening four minutes of the second half to stop a mini-run by Yale and keep Harvard's lead at seven (38-31) with 6:02 to go in the third.
Benzan quickly added to the lead with a deep three on a nice jab step, and the Crimson started to roll. Raster scored five consecutive points and Nunley added two with a step back jumper to make it 48-35 at the 2:56 mark of the third.
After Yale responded with a 5-0 run over the next minute, Harvard finished the frame with an eight-point run of its own to take a commanding 56-40 advantage heading into the fourth.
The Crimson kept the foot on the pedal, rattling off nine more points to cap a 17-0 run in just over a four-minute span. Harvard led by 25, 65-40, with 7:47 remaining in the contest.
The Bulldogs regrouped and put together a 9-0 run of their own to cut the Harvard lead to 65-49, but it would prove to be too late the Crimson pulled away late to secure the 76-56 victory.
"I did see what we worked on show up in the game," Delaney-Smith said. "That's why our shot selection was better, that's why our shooting accuracy was better. I think we executed way better."
Harvard returns to action next weekend, Feb. 17-18, for a pair of Ivy League road contests against Columbia and Cornell. Both games will air on the Ivy League Digital Network.
To watch the full game archive of Harvard-Yale on the Ivy League Digital Network, click here: Harvard-Yale Full Game
NOTES: Raster's 24 points and Benzan's 10 assists were season highs in both categories for a Crimson player in a game this season...Raster finished the game 10-of-13 from the field (76.9%)...Harvard has won 10 games in a row in the series against Yale, a streak that dates back to the 2011-12 season. The Crimson improved to 51-30 all time against Yale.