Senior forward Destiny Nunley filled the stat sheet with 21 points, 10 rebounds, five blocked shots, and two steals in the win against Temple. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Senior forward Destiny Nunley had 21 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocked shots to lead a group of five Harvard players in double figures as the Harvard women's basketball team (6-1) beat Temple (3-2), 73-62, at Lavietes Pavilion on Thursday night.
Sophomore guard Sydney Skinner added 13 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, sophomore Madeline Raster notched 14 points, and freshman Katie Benzan added 13 points, seven assists, and four rebounds for Harvard. Junior Taylor Rooks added 10 points and four rebounds off the bench for Harvard, which won its sixth straight game.
Harvard held Temple to 32.4% shooting, outrebounding the Owls 43-39, while hitting 48.2% (27-for-56) from the field, the Crimson's best shooting performance of the season.
Raster hit a big three-pointer early in the fourth quarter with 8:00 to play to extend Harvard's lead to double-digits at 56-46, and Skinner drove the baseline for a transition layup to maintain Harvard's 10-point lead with 7:14 to play, forcing a Temple timeout.
Later in the fourth quarter, with Harvard still holding a double-digit lead, Nunley hit a transition layup with 3:15 to play to make it 67-53. Skinner's two free throws with 2:06 to go maintained Harvard's lead at 14 points. Then, after a big defensive stop, on Harvard's next possession Skinner found Nunley after draining the shot clock, and the senior hit a jumper in the lane to give Harvard a 73-57 lead and effectively ice the game.
Harvard held Temple to just 26.3% shooting in the first half, and had four blocked shots, with three coming from Nunley, who also added two steals. On the other end of the floor, Harvard hit 12-of-27 (44.4%) from the field in the first half, including five three-pointers.
Raster broke an early scoring drought with a straightaway three-pointer with 6:20 left in the opening quarter, then added threes on back-to-back possessions with 3:00 remaining in the opening quarter to answer a 6-0 Temple run and pull the Crimson back within two points at 11-9.
Benzan followed with a drive to the bucket through traffic to tie the game, then Nunley hit a scoop shot off an inbounds play to give Harvard its first lead at 13-11 with less than a minute to go in an eventful opening quarter that Harvard led 15-13.
Rooks opened the second quarter with another three for Harvard to extend the lead to 18-13. Minutes later, Rooks drove the lane late in a possession and hit a floater to extend Harvard's lead to 24-16 forcing a Temple timeout with 6:41 to play in the second quarter.
Harvard's defense held Temple scoreless for 6:00 in the second quarter – when Temple scored, Benzan answered with a layup underneath to put Harvard up 28-18 with 2:22 to play in the half. With 1:12 remaining Nunley hit a short jumper to give the Crimson its largest lead of the half at 32-21. Harvard led 32-23 at the break.
Temple cut into Harvard's lead in half in the opening minutes of the third quarter to make it 36-32, but Nunley hit a turnaround jumper and layup around a Skinner drive to the bucket to put Harvard back up by 10 with 5:40 to play in the frame, a lead that the Crimson maintained at 51-43 at the end of the quarter.
Harvard will host NJIT on Sunday at noon in a game that will air on NESN and be streamed on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Game Notes: Harvard's streak is the longest in non-conference play since a seven-game non-conference run during the 2013-14 season…Harvard played host to Temple for the first time in program history, beating the Owls for the first time ever.