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Women's Basketball Beats UNC Asheville, 79-62, For 10th Straight Win; Advances to Fordham Holiday Classic Final

Freshman guard Katie Benzan had 16 points and seven assists to lead Harvard to its 10th straight win. (Gil Talbot/Harvard Athletics)

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Freshman forward Jeannie Boehm recorded her third career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and classmate Katie Benzan added 16 points and 7 assists with four three-pointers to lead the Harvard women's basketball team (10-1) to a 79-62 win over UNC Asheville (6-4) at the Fordham Holiday Classic.

The win was Harvard's 10th straight victory, the program's longest winning streak in 10 years (12 games in 2006-07), and advanced the Crimson to the championship game of the tournament. Harvard will take on Buffalo (10-0) at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow.

Junior guard Taylor Rooks added 10 points, and senior forward Destiny Nunley (10 points) also scored in double digits for Harvard, which outrebounded UNC-Asheville 47-37 for the game.

Harvard controlled the glass early, with Boehm proving to be a force inside. Her spin move and layup inside helped Harvard pull to within a point at 9-8 midway through the first quarter. Rooks' offensive rebound and put back minutes later helped Harvard take its first lead at 10-9 with 3:22 to play in the opening quarter.

Nunley's jumper from six feet with five seconds to go gave Harvard a 12-11 lead at the break.

UNC Asheville kept it close as Harvard led 20-19 early in the second quarter before a 13-0 run put the Crimson ahead by double-digits. Benzan keyed the run by heating up from behind the arc, hitting Harvard's first three pointer of the game at 6:57 mark of the frame, then adding two more from long distance on back-to-back possessions to put Harvard up 31-19 with 3:13 to play in the half. The Crimson led 37-27 at the half.

The Bulldogs cut the lead to single-digits late in the third quarter at 46-38, but some good work on the offensive glass led to Boehm's hook shot with 3:15 to play in the frame.

Harvard's Sydney Skinner and Nani Redford hit back to back three pointers from the same spot to help the Crimson surge ahead, 54-40, with just over a minute to play in the third quarter. Those shots were part of an 11-0 run, as senior Taylor Finley added a corner three, and sophomore Nani Redford hit a tough layup to put the Crimson up 59-40 late in the third quarter.

UNC Asheville never threatened Harvard's lead in the fourth quarter, as the Crimson made one final push midway through the frame to put the Bulldogs away for good. Leading 64-48, Rooks' layup was followed by Porter's offensive rebound and put-back.

With a chance for a three-point play, Porter missed the free throw, but Skinner forced a tie-up and possession stayed with Harvard. Boehm then grabbed another offensive rebound for an easy layup to put the Crimson ahead 70-48 with 4:10 to go.

Game Notes: Harvard is in the championship game of the Fordham Holiday Classic for the second time in program history after a runner-up showing in 2013 edition of the tournament. That year, Harvard beat Tulsa, 61-57, in the opening game on Dec. 29, 2013, before falling to host Fordham, 64-44, on the following day in the championship game…The Crimson own a 10-game non-conference winning streak, the longest in program history...At 10-1 with two non-conference games left on the schedule, Harvard has a chance to post its best out of conference showing in school history.

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