Harvard vs. Fairfield
Freshman Katie Benzan notched a career high 22 points in Harvard's win over BU on Tuesday. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Harvard returns home after Thanksgiving to take on Fairfield on Saturday night (6 p.m.) at Lavietes Pavilion. Harvard is in search of its first win against the Stags since Nov. 19, 2014, and its first win ever against Fairfield at home. The Stags own a 9-2 advantage in the all-time series against Harvard, including a 67-50 win over the Crimson on Dec. 28, 2015.
THE LAST TIME OUT
Freshman guard Katie Benzan followed one career night with another, recording 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting from behind the three-point line to help Harvard to a 65-52 win at BU on Tuesday night. Benzan matched a Case Gym record by any women's player with her seven three-pointers. Senior Destiny Nunley added 13 points, four rebounds, three blocks and three steals, and freshman Jeannie Boehm added seven points, seven rebounds and two blocks to lead Harvard's starters.
DELANEY-SMITH APPROACHING WIN #550
Harvard head coach Kathleen Delaney-Smith, who enters Tuesday night's contest with a 549-376 (.594) all-time record, is approaching win 550 behind the bench at Harvard. She would become the 45th Division I women's head coach to reach that milestone.
FROM WAY DOWNTOWN
Through four games this season, Harvard has established itself as one of the top three-shooting teams in the nation. Harvard ranks among the top-20 in the nation in three-pointers made (39), three-pointers per game (9.8) and three-point field goal percentage (42.4). Freshman Katie Benzan leads the team with 14 three-pointers (32nd, NCAA), an average of 3.5 three-pointers per game (21st, NCAA) and a .583 three-point field goal percentage (17th, NCAA).
• Fairfield, picked fourth in the MAAC preseason poll, with redshirt senior Casey Smith (Second Team) and senior Kelsey Carey (Third Team) earning preseason All-MAAC honors. Through five games this season, Smith (15.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Carey (14.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg) are Fairfield's top two scorers, while redshirt junior Samantha Cooper (12.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg) has also been a main contributor for the Stags. Smith has missed the last three games for Fairfield
• Early this season, Fairfield is the top defensive team in the MAAC with an average of 56.6 points allowed per game.
• In the last meeting between the two teams on Dec. 28, 2015, despite 39 combined points, Harvard could not overcome an early deficit, falling to Fairfield, 67-50, in a road contest. Shilpa Tummala finished with a career high 20 points on 6-of-14 shooting. AnnMarie Healy scored 19 points. Freshman Nani Redford paced the squad in rebounding with a career-high eight boards, adding a personal-best six assists, four points and three steals. Fairfield was paced by Kelsey Carey, who put together a 27 point game on 9-of-16 shooting. The Stags dominated in the paint, outscoring the Crimson at a 34-6 clip down low.
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 215-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. Through four games in 2016-17, the trio has combined for 21.1 points, 13.1 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game.
MEET THE FRESHMEN
Harvard is set to welcome four student-athletes from 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 640-470 record, tops of all Ancient Eight schools. Harvard is the only Ivy League school with a winning record against all other Ivies.
The Crimson owned a 1-1 record in overtime games last season. The Crimson is 14-7 in overtime under head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, including a 65-56 OT win at Cornell on Jan. 29, 2016.