Women's Basketball Uses Strong Defensive Effort to Beat NJIT, 59-38

Sophomore Sydney Skinner paced Harvard with 14 points in the 59-38 win over NJIT, the team's seventh straight victory. (Gil Talbot)

Sophomore Sydney Skinner notched 14 points and six rebounds, senior Destiny Nunley added a career high 15 rebounds, and freshman Katie Benzan notched 11 points and seven assists to help the Harvard women's basketball team (7-1) earn a 59-38 victory over NJIT at Lavietes Pavilion on Sunday afternoon. The win was Harvard's seventh straight victory, the longest winning streak for the Crimson since the 2012-13 season.

Harvard held a 61-22 edge on rebounds, a margin that included 25 offensive rebounds which led to 20 second chance points. The 61 rebounds for Harvard was the sixth most in a game in program history and the most for a Crimson team since recording 61 in a game against Columbia on Feb. 3, 1995.

The Crimson were finally able to shake the Highlanders in the fourth quarter as Benzan's early three pointer extended Harvard's lead to 41-24, then Skinner's back-to-back threes from the wing put Harvard's lead to 24 points at 49-25 with 6:37 to play. Skinner hit another three pointer, her fourth of the game with 3:45 to go, as the sophomore scored all 14 of her points in the second half to carry Harvard to the win.

Sophomore Madeline Raster (seven points, four rebounds) hit a three pointer on Harvard's opening possession of the game to give Harvard a lead it would never relinquish. Harvard held NJIT scoreless in the opening 3:30 while shaking off their own shooting cob webs as Benzan added a three with 5:30 to play, and sophomore Nani Redford (nine points, six rebounds, three assists) added a floater in the lane with 3:50 to go to put Harvard up 9-4.

Freshman Jeannie Boehm's layup inside, followed by a corner three from Raster gave Harvard a 14-4 lead as part of a 7-0 run for the Crimson. NJIT responded with an 8-0 run late in the first quarter to cut into the Crimson lead, as Harvard led 14-12 heading into the first break.

Benzan gave Harvard breathing room early in the second quarter with a straightaway three, as Harvard locked down on the defensive end, holding the Highlanders to just two field goals in the second quarter, and notching a 31-13 rebounding edge in the half. Nunley grabbed a tough offensive rebound for a put back with 6:45 to play to give Harvard a 19-12 lead.

Sophomore Kelsey Bogdan's three pointer from the wing put Harvard back up by 10 points at 26-16 with under a minute to play in the half, and that was the score heading into the break.

Redford hit a corner three to extend Harvard's lead at the start of the third quarter, then caught an inbounds pass and scooped a reverse layup in to put Harvard up 31-16 with 5:00 to play in the frame. Skinner's three pointer on Harvard's next possession put the Crimson up 34-18, a lead that the home team maintained at 38-23 heading into the fourth quarter.

Game Notes: Harvard improved to 5-0 in the all-time series against the Highlanders…Sophomore Kelsey Bogdan notched a career high five points off the bench for Harvard…Sophomore Hayley Isenberg recorded her first career point for Harvard in the game.