Women’s Basketball Starts 40th Season at DePaul Maggie Dixon Classic

Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
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Harvard heads to Chicago for the DePaul Maggie Dixon Classic this weekend.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Opening its 40th season of play, Harvard women's basketball heads to Chicago to tip off its season at the DePaul Maggie Dixon Classic Friday-Saturday, Nov. 8-9. The Crimson will first face host DePaul Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET, before facing either Cal Poly or Duquesne Saturday. Online audio will be available for the DePaul game at http://www.depaulbluedemons.com/allaccess/.

About The Maggie Dixon Classic
Formerly known as the DePaul Invitational, the Maggie Dixon Classic was renamed in 2009 and honors former Blue Demon assistant coach Maggie Dixon, who passed away on April 6, 2006 of an arrhythmia. Her tragic death came three weeks after concluding her first season as the head coach at Army which saw the Black Knights win the Patriot League Championship and make the program's first trip to the NCAA Tournament. This is the third tournament to be named after Dixon. Dixon's older brother, Jamie, the head men's basketball coach at Pittsburgh, hosts a tournament at Madison Square Garden while San Diego, Dixon's alma mater, also hosts a tournament in Maggie's name. 

A Year Ago
Harvard returns 11 letterwinners and three starters from a squad that finished 21-9 and made its second-straight WNIT appearance a year ago. Senior captain Christine Clark, junior Ali Curtis and junior Temi Fagbenle highlight the returning players. The trio combined to score 31.1 points per game, including 15.6 from Clark, and grab 14.5 rebounds. Fagbenle, a 2012 Olympian with Great Britain, pulled down 7.7 rebounds per game in 2012-13. Clark is a two-time All-Ivy first team selection and enters the season ranked 11th in Harvard history with 1,265 career points.

The Crimson also added five freshmen who combined to win seven conference championships, a state championship and a Nike Nationals championship. The incomers garnered seven all-state and nine all-conference accolades from five different states.

Opening Act
Harvard is 19-20 all-time in season openers and 16-15 under head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. The Crimson has lost two straight season openers, including an 81-72 defeat in 2012-13 at North Dakota State.

In 39 seasons of Ivy League play, Harvard is 22-17 in conference openers and 19-12 under head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith.

Scouting the DePaul Maggie Dixon Classic

2012-13 Record: 21-12, 9-7 BIG EAST
Streak: L, 2
Series History: Harvard trails, 0-1
Last Meeting: L, 52-97 (Jan. 18, 2005)

DePaul, 21-12 a season ago, advanced to the NCAA Tournament and fell to Oklahoma State in the first round, 73-56. The Blue Demons are led by Brittany Hrynko, the 2013-14 BIG EAST preseason Player of the Year honoree who posted 14.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last year. Jasmine Penny, a 2013-14 preseason All-BIG EAST Conference team member, also returns after averaging 12.8 points and 4.9 rebounds a year ago. Head coach Doug Bruno begins his 28th season at the helm of Blue Demon program.

Cal Poly
2012-13 Record: 21-11, 13-5 Big West
Streak: L, 1
Series History: First Meeting

Finishing last season with a 21-11 record, Cal Poly advanced to the NCAA Tournament after winning the Big West and fell to Penn State, 85-55, in the first round. Senior Molly Schlemer returns after averaging 13.3 points per game as a junior. Ariana Elegado will also be back in uniform after posting 12.0 points a season ago. The most successful coach in Mustang women's basketball history, Faith Mimnaugh enters her 17th season in 2013-14.

2012-13 Record: 24-8, 11-3 Atlantic 10
Streak: L, 1
Series History: Harvard trails, 0-1
Last Meeting: L, 74-80 (Dec. 9, 1995)

The Dukes return three starters from last season's 24-8 squad, including first team All-Atlantic 10 member Wumi Agunbiade, who averaged 13.2 points and 7.2 boards as a junior. Dan Burt was named the 10th head coach of the Dukes on April 27, 2013 after spending six seasons as the top assistant with Duquesne.

Just Keep Winning
Harvard won eight of its final nine games to end last season. The eight-straight wins marked the longest for the Crimson since taking eight in a row in 2009-10. Harvard's longest win streak prior to that was a 12-game run in 2006-07.

20 Times 10
At 21-9, the Crimson recorded the 10th 20-win season in program history a year ago. All 10 of the 20-win seasons have come under the guidance of Kathy Delaney-Smith with the last occurring in 2009-10.

Milestone Watch
Head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, in her 32nd season at the helm of the Crimson, is the winningest coach in Ivy League women's basketball history with 495 career victories. She ranks second only to Princeton's legendary coach Pete Carril (514) for wins by an Ancient Eight coach on either the men's or women's side and is closing in on 300 career wins in the conference with 295 victories against the Ivy League.

Non-Conference Nonsense
Harvard closed out the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 9-5 record a year ago, marking the program's third best non-conference record under head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith and the fifth best non-conference record all-time. Harvard has earned 11 out-of-league victories twice under Delaney-Smith, turning in an 11-3 record in 1997-98 and going 11-4 in 1985-86. The 1976-77 squad owns the program record for non-conference wins at 13-4 while the 1978-79 Crimson went 12-9 away from the Ivy League.

Harvard has now posted at least eight non-conference wins in five-straight seasons.

Road Tripping
Harvard was 10-7 in true road games last season and 10-9 overall when playing outside Lavietes Pavilion. It marked the most road victories for the Crimson since 2008-09 and was the second-straight year the team  posted a winning record away from home.

What a Start
Harvard's 7-3 record to start the season last year ranked as the second-best record through 10 games in program history. The Crimson has gone 8-2 three times, most recently in 1997-98 en route to a 23-5 overall record and an Ivy League title. Both the 1976-77 and 1987-88 squads went 8-2 to begin the year with the 1987-88 team also capturing an Ancient Eight crown.

November Numbers
The Crimson went 5-2 in the month of November last year to set a new program record for wins before the month of December. Harvard last posted five wins in a single month during the 2010-11 season, registering six in January and five in February.

You Can Count on Clark
Christine Clark has started all 88 games for the Crimson over the last three years and has scored in double-digits 73 times. This includes a streak of 21 consecutive 10-plus point performances (3/5/11-2/4/12) and 13 games in which she has scored at least 20.