Sophomore Sydney Skinner matched a career high with 14 points in the win against Fairfield. (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Sophomore guard Sydney Skinner matched a career high with 14 points, and junior forward Taylor Rooks added six points, four blocks and 10 rebounds to lift Harvard women's basketball (4-1) to a 58-44 win over Fairfield (3-3) at Lavietes Pavilion on Saturday night.
The win was Harvard's fourth straight and head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith's 550th at Harvard as she became the 45th Division I women's basketball coach to reach that milestone.
"I'm very proud of that, but I never think of games in terms of milestones," said Delaney-Smith. "I loved our defense, and that's what I loved about this game."
Freshman Jeannie Boehm added 12 points, six rebounds, and two blocks, and freshman Katie Benzan added 11 points and three assists for the Crimson, which held Fairfield to just seven points in the fourth quarter, and outrebounded the Stags 48-33 for the night.
Leading 41-37 at the start of the fourth quarter, Skinner hit a three-pointer from elbow extended to put the Crimson up by seven points. When Fairfield cut the lead to 46-42, Boehm made a quick cut underneath the basket to get open on an inbounds play for an easy layup, putting Harvard up by six with just under 6:00 to play.
After one last surge by the Stags, Benzan hit her lone three-pointer of the night to put Harvard up 51-44 with 4:00 to play then the Crimson locked down on defense, getting two straight stops and extending their lead to 55-44 on Rooks' fallaway jumper with 1:50 to go to seal the win.
In a back and forth first quarter with Harvard pushing the tempo, Boehm and Skinner carried the Crimson in the early going, with Skinner notching five points, and Boehm with four in the opening frame. Skinner hit a three pointer from the corner off a well-executed inbounds play with just over 2:00 to play to put Harvard up 13-10, and the Crimson led 13-12 at the end of the quarter.
Both teams traded baskets in the opening half of the second quarter before Harvard used a 5-0 run in the last four minutes of the half to take a 28-23 lead, keyed by some scrappy play by Rooks (two blocks, one point) in the final minutes.
Fairfield rallied to take the lead midway through the second half on Kristine Miller's layup with 4:32 to play in the third quarter, but Benzan's jumper and an offensive rebound and putback by Rooks put Harvard up for good at 36-33 and the Crimson led 41-37 heading into the fourth quarter.