Senior Destiny Nunley had nine points and seven rebounds against Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of Minnesota)
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Sophomore guard Madeline Raster had a career high 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting from behind the three-point arc, and freshman Jeannie Boehm added 15 points and four rebounds in her Harvard debut, but the Crimson (0-1) fell 103-87 in its season opener at Minnesota (1-0).
The Crimson matched a program record, hitting 16 three pointers (16-for-30, 53.3%) on the night. It was the fourth time in program history that Harvard has hit 16 threes, and the first time since Feb. 28, 1998 (vs. Brown).
"I'm disappointed because I felt it was a winnable game," said head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. "But I'm not surprised we have some growing pains. There was a lot of good stuff in the game, but when you play and start players for Harvard that are so young you expect mistakes, and I think they are very correctable mistakes."
Sophomore Sydney Skinner registered 12 points (4-of-5 from behind the arc), and senior Destiny Nunley added nine points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Harvard opened the game hot from outside the arc, hitting 10-of-15 (66.7%) from three-point range in the first half. The shooting barrage began early on with Raster hitting threes on back-to-back possessions for Harvard to give the Crimson a 6-5 lead in the opening minutes.
Trailing 12-6 later in the quarter, the Crimson clawed back from inside the arc, as Kirby Porter, Destiny Nunley and Jeannie Boehm all hit jumpers to tie the game at 12-12 midway through the quarter.
Skinner kept Harvard in the game with three more three-pointers in the first quarter, but Minnesota closed out the frame with a 7-2 run to take a 31-23 lead heading into the first break.
The Gophers extended to 40-28 with 7:36 to play in the second quarter, but the Crimson responded with a 12-0 run bookended by threes from Minnesota native Taylor Finley (2), with fellow Minnesota native Mackenzie Barta and Skinner adding threes in between. The Gophers called timeout with 5:33 to play in the half.
Minnesota responded with a 13-2 run to take a 53-42 lead, but Boehm recorded Harvard's last five points in the half to keep the Crimson close at the half, as the Gophers held a 55-47 lead at the break.
Harvard kept the Gophers' lead under 10 points in the opening minutes of the third quarter, and a Katie Benzan three-pointer with 5:01 to play cut the Minnesota lead to 62-56. But Minnesota closed the quarter with a 12-4 run to take a 74-60 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Harvard hit five more three pointers to match the program mark, but could not get closer than 14 the rest of the game.
"We're obviously disappointed with the loss, but I'm very excited for the season because I saw a lot of good things from our team too," Boehm said.
The Crimson will take on Maine in its home opener on Tuesday night with a 6:00 p.m. tip off at Lavietes Pavillion. The game will air on NESN and can be streamed on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Game Notes: Harvard is 20-23 all-time in season openers and 17-18 under head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith…Edina, Minn. native Taylor Finley matched a career high with six points on 2-of-2 three point shooting…The Crimson are 0-4 in the all-time series against Minnesota, but this was the closest game of the four, with Harvard trailing by six points in the second half.