Harvard vs. Samford
Freshman Jeannie Boehm and the Crimson return to Lavietes Pavilion on Friday night to face Samford. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass - Harvard women's basketball is back at home on Friday night, as the Crimson take on Samford in a 7 p.m. contest at Lavietes Pavilion. The game will be available on the Ivy League Digital Network. Harvard will host Samford at home for the first time in program history.
HARVARD PULLS AWAY FROM MAINE IN SECOND HALF
Harvard rallied for a 69-62 victory over Maine at Lavietes Pavilion on Tuesday night. Senior Destiny Nunley led the Crimson with 22 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter to preserve the win. Harvard used a big fourth quarter and some clutch defense to pull away late 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.
• Samford is coming off a season in which the Bulldogs posted a record of 20-11 overall and 11-3 in Southern Conference play. Samford returns three seniors on what will be a young team overall. Forward Ellen Riggins, four year starting point guard Brittany Stevens and guard Lydia McGee lead the Bulldogs this year. Samford will feature five freshmen with Katie Allen, Charity Brown, Samantha Fitzgerald, Leslie Golden and Paige Serup joining the program.
• Through two games this season, juniors Kassidy Blevins (14 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Hannah Nichols (13.0 ppg) lead the team in scoring. Stevens, Blevins, Brown, Riggins and Fitzgerald have been Samford's starting five in each game this season. On Sunday in its first win of the season against Memphis (W, 48-42), Samford forced 22 turnovers as Kassidy Blevins led Samford with 16 points and seven rebounds, Hannah Nichols added 12 points and Charity Brown finished with 10 points for the Bulldogs.
• In the only meeting between the two teams last year on Jan. 2, 2016, Harvard's senior trio of Shilpa Tummala, AnnMarie Healy and Kit Metoyer combined for 42 points to lead Harvard to a 60-54 win in Birmingham, Alabama. Madeline Raster led the rebounding effort with seven, as the Crimson outrebounded the Bulldogs by a 43-30 margin.
CRIMSON TIE RECORD WITH 16 THREE-POINTERS
In a season-opening 103-87 loss at Minnesota, 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). Sophomore Madeline Raster hit six three-pointers (6-for-12) and led Harvard with 18 points.
The Crimson went 14-14 overall last season, earning a selection to the WNIT Tournament. It was the sixth appearance over the last eight years in the WNIT for the Crimson and the program's 12th postseason appearance, most of any Ivy League team. Harvard returns two starters and nine letterwinners from a year ago, including senior co-captain Destiny Nunley, who averaged 6.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game as the team's top reserve player.
Harvard was selected third in the Ivy League Preseason Media Poll. Harvard has finished in the top three of the Ivy League standings every year since 2006-07 (10 years). The Crimson earned 104 points in the poll, just behind Princeton, picked second with 110 points, and Penn, picked first with 136 points. Harvard finished 2015-16 in third place at 9-5 in the Ivy League, behind Princeton (12-2) and Ivy regular season champion Penn (13-1).
IT'S UP, AND IT'S GOOD
Harvard broke the record for consecutive games with at least one three-pointer against Dartmouth last year (1/24/15). The Crimson has made at least one three-point field goal in 213-consecutive games dating back to 2008-09. The previous streak (172) began during the 1989-90 season and concluded in 1996-97.
CAPTAINING THE SHIP
Seniors Taylor Finley and Destiny Nunley were named captains for 2016-17.
Finley, a native of Edina, Minn., recovered from offseason hip surgery to become a key reserve player for the Crimson in 2015-16. She appeared in 23 games and logged a season high 24 minutes against Rhode Island on Nov. 21, 2015.
Nunley, a Dallas-area Native, was Harvard's top reserve last season, posting 6.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. She recorded a season-high 15 points against Brown on Feb. 27 and had seven double-digit scoring efforts on the year.
SOPHOMORES LOOK TO TAKE STEP
Harvard's sophomore guards had an immediate impact on the program as freshmen, as Madeline Raster started 25 of 28 games, Nani Redford started in 16 games, and Sydney Skinner played a major role with 12 starts and 19.8 minutes per game. The trio combined for 15.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. Raster finished fourth on the team in points scored (6.7 ppg) and earned Rookie of the Week honors Feb. 15. Skinner earned Rookie of the Week honors Feb. 29.
MEET THE FRESHMEN
Harvard is set to welcome four student-athletes Wfrom the Class of 2020 to the program this season. The class, which spans three states and includes one student-athlete from France, consists of a pair of guards and forwards:
Freshman Guard Mackenzie Barta
Maple Grove, Minn.
Four-time letterwinnner and three-year starter at Maple Grove Senior … Served as a captain as a junior and senior... Finished third all-time in Maple Grove history with 1,205 points, set the single-game record with 37 points as a senior... Minnesota Miss Basketball nominee.
Freshman Guard Katie Benzan
Five-year starter and two-year captain at Noble and Greenough School... Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year…McDonald's All-American nominee … 2,000-point scorer... Brother, Pat, plays basketball at Holy Cross.
Freshman Forward Jeannie Boehm
Four-year starter at New Trier and captained the team as a senior…Named a McDonald's All-American...Second McDonald's All-American in Harvard and Ivy League history…Naismith Trophy Mid-Season Team...Naismith All-American honorable mention... Ranked No. 22 nationally by Prospects Nation and No. 81 by ESPN...Finished career with 1,872 points, 1,169 rebounds, 375 blocks, 254 assists, 142 steals and shot 57.1 percent from the floor...Brother, Peter, lettered one year in basketball at Harvard.
Freshman Forward Maria Guramare
Three-year starter at Marcelin Berthelot …Played for three seasons for French National Institute of Sport…Selected to the South of France regional team… Competed on the French U15 and U16 national teams...Father, Marin, played rugby professionally for 25 years.
CRIMSON COLORED IVY
Since women's basketball joined the Ivy League in 1974-75, the Crimson owns a 637-469 record, tops of all Ancient Eight schools. Harvard is the only Ivy League school with a winning record against all other Ivies.
School Overall Wins Harvard vs.
Brown 512 48-34
Columbia 246 59-3
Cornell 403 64-11
Dartmouth 569 45-33
Penn 501 49-28
Princeton 635 40-38
Yale 491 50-30
*as of November 5, 2016
The winningest coach in Ivy League basketball history with 547 career victories, head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith passed former Princeton head coach Pete Carril (514) for most wins by an Ancient Eight coach on either the men's or women's side during the 2013-14 season. Delaney-Smith also owns 322 career wins in the conference – the most of any men's or women's coach – with her 300th coming against Yale Feb. 8, 2014.
Delaney-Smith, in her 35th season at the helm of the Crimson, earned her 500th win in 2013-14, joining a group of 28 active coaches in Division I with at least 500 wins. She is also one of four active Division I head coaches to spend 35-plus years at one institution.