Nunley Drops Career-High 22 Points in 69-62 Victory over Maine

Senior Destiny Nunley scored a career high 22 points in the win against Maine. (Gil Talbot)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard women's basketball team rallied for a 69-62 victory over Maine at Lavietes Pavilion on Tuesday evening. Senior Destiny Nunley led the Crimson with 22 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter to preserve the win.

"I think it's a great win for us," said head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. "I was proud of the in game adjustments we made in our zone defense for a young team. I was very happy with that. We're not always going to shoot like we did at Minnesota. When you expect to and you don't that's when you can have a let down, and they didn't have that."

Harvard used a big fourth quarter and some clutch defense to take down the Black Bears in its first game in Cambridge this season. Nunley's 22 points, along with 14 points from sophomore Madeline Raster and 10 points from sophomore Sydney Skinner helped propel Harvard to the win, while the defense held Maine to just nine points in the fourth quarter.  
"Our defense got better and better," said Nunley. "We were getting stops and pushing it in transition, which is something we've been practicing all year because we're a pretty quick team. I thought that even though we didn't hit as many shots as we did at Minnesota, we crashed the boards hard, and we kept shooting."

Raster paced the offense with five assists, while Skinner and freshman Jeannie Boehm led the Crimson with six rebounds, each. Freshman Katie Benzan added eight points and four assists.

The Crimson took an early 7-6 lead over the Black Bears after the opening three minutes, led by five points from Raster. Raster finished strong at the rim and used a friendly roll on a three to give Harvard the early advantage.

Maine responded with a 7-0 run, giving them a six-point cushion (13-7) halfway through the opening quarter. The Black Bears shot 9-of-17 (53%) from the floor in the period.

Harvard battled its way back, using multiple baskets from Nunley and sophomore Sydney Skinner to narrow the deficit to two (20-18) near the closing minutes of the first frame.

Maine senior Sigi Koizar managed to pick up a loose ball near the hoop and beat the buzzer to give Maine a 22-18 advantage after one quarter of action.  

The Crimson outscored the visiting Black Bears, 16-15, in the second quarter, largely in part to five-straight points from Benzan and a trio of baskets from Nunley. The senior forward finished with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first half.

Koizar finished with 12 points in the half, including two triples, to help Maine take a three-point lead (37-34) at the intermission. She totaled a team-high 19 points in the game.

Harvard regained the lead early in the third quarter, as Boehm rattled off consecutive baskets and Skinner added another strong drive to put the Crimson on top, 44-43, with 4:35 remaining in the frame.

The Black Bears were able to regroup, going on an 8-2 run to take a 51-46 lead over Harvard.

Senior Taylor Finley ended the quick spurt from Maine, knocking down a three to pull the Crimson within two. Raster then came up with steal in the frontcourt and finished at the rim to draw even at 51-51 with just under a minute to play in the third.

After Maine scored a bucket down low, Raster fired off another three to give Harvard a 54-53 advantage heading into the final quarter.

Harvard never looked back from its one-point lead, outscoring the Black Bears 15-9 in the fourth quarter. Nunley led the charge for the Crimson late, scoring 11 points, including nine-straight, to extend the Crimson lead to six (64-60).

Skinner then completed the old-fashioned three-point play and Nunley added another layup to take a 69-60 lead with 1:03 to play. The Black Bears were unable to recover, and Harvard held on for the 69-62 win.

The Crimson outrebounded the visiting Black Bears, 38-36, while holding Maine to just 21-of-60 from the floor. The Harvard bench also outscored its Maine counterparts, 16-5.

Harvard women's hoops returns to the hardwood for a home contest against Samford on Friday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m..