Harvard vs. Dartmouth
Harvard will open its 43rd season of Ivy League play on Saturday at Lavietes Pavilion against Dartmouth. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Harvard (11-1) meets Dartmouth (5-8) at Lavietes Pavilion on Saturday afternoon in its Ivy League opener, as the Crimson begin a 43rd season of league play against the Big Green. Harvard enters Ivy League play assured of its best single-season non-conference record in program history, even with one non-league game still to play. The Crimson were ranked 6th in the latest ESPNW Mid-Major rankings, and 23rd in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25.
THE LAST TIME OUT
On Dec. 30, Katie Benzan had a game-high 18 points and five assists, and Destiny Nunley added 14 points and seven rebounds to lead Harvard to a 74-62 win over Buffalo in the championship game of the Fordham Holiday Classic. Jeannie Boehm added eight points and a season-high six blocked shots, and Sydney Skinner and Taylor Rooks each added 10 points. Harvard hit a season-high 54.2% (26-for-48) from the field, while recording 10 steals on the defensive end and holding Buffalo to just 34.8% (23-for-66) shooting. Benzan was named MVP of the tournament for her efforts, while Nunley was also named to the all-tournament team.
Harvard sits at 24-18 all-time in Ivy League openers and 21-13 under head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. Harvard has opened against Dartmouth in 16-straight seasons, with Harvard holding a 10-6 edge in those contests.
CRIMSON COLORED IVY
Since women's basketball joined the Ivy League in 1974-75, the Crimson owns a 648-470 record, tops of all Ancient Eight schools. Harvard is the only Ivy League school with a winning record against all other Ivies.
• Dartmouth wrapped up non-conference play with a 5-8 record, falling at New Hampshire, 64-47, on Saturday (Dec. 31), in its most recent action. One of the more veteran teams in the Ivy League, the Big Green are led by junior guard Kate Letkewicz, who leads the team in scoring (11.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg). Letkewicz is one of the nation's most accurate three-point shooters, hitting 44.6% (32nd, NCAA) from behind the arc.
• Sophomore forward Isalys Quinones (9.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.8 spg) and senior forward Fanni Szabo (8.9 ppg) are also main contributors for Dartmouth. Junior center Olivia Smith (7.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and junior guard Amber Mixon (2.9 ppg, 1.9 apg) have started all 13 games for Dartmouth as well.
• On Jan. 23, 2016 at Lavietes Pavilion, in the last meeting between the two teams, Dartmouth's Kate Letkewicz poured in 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting and added a game-high 17 rebounds in a 70-64 win for the Big Green. Dartmouth was hot from the floor, finishing at 25-of-51 (49.0 percent), while Harvard struggled at 21-of-66, including 6-of-32 from behind the arc. Harvard's Shilpa Tummala added 16 points and a team-high eight boards in 32 minutes of play, while Nani Redford and Kit Metoyer contributed eight points apiece.
ON A ROLL
With 11 wins in a row, Harvard has the fourth longest winning streak in the nation, all in non-conference play. Harvard's streak is the longest since a 12 game run during the 2006-07 season. The team record for consecutive wins is 16 games, set during the 2002-03 season.
FROM WAY DOWNTOWN
Through 11 games this season, Harvard has established itself as one of the top three-point shooting teams in the nation. Harvard ranks among the top teams in the nation in three-point field goals per game (8.0, 35th) and three-point field goal precentage (38.1%, 20th NCAA). Freshman Katie Benzan leads the team with 35 three-pointers on the year and a .500 three-point field goal percentage. (10th, NCAA) She is on pace to break the school record for three-pointers made, held by Erin Maher (80 in 1990-91). With 96 three pointers (8.0 per game) Harvard is on pace to break the program record for three pointers in one season (205 in 1995-96 and 2009-10).
CLEANING THE GLASS
Harvard entered the weekend ranked 19th in the nation with an average of 43.9 rebounds per game, and has an average rebounding margin of +8.8 (28th, NCAA). Harvard recorded a season high 61 rebounds vs. NJIT on Dec. 4, the most for Harvard in a game since 1993-94 season. Harvard is on pace to break the team's single season rebounding record (1,283 in 2013-14).
Harvard (70 blocks, 5.8 per game) is on pace to break the team record for blocked shots in a season (157, 5.8 per game in 1988-89). Harvard is led by freshman forward Jeannie Boehm (36 blocks, 3.0 blocks per game, 12th NCAA), the team's top shot-blocker. Boehm is on pace to catch Deb Fiandermeyer, who set program marks for blocked shots in 1992-93 (85 blocks, 3.5 per game).
DELANEY-SMITH RECORDS 550TH WIN
Harvard head coach Kathleen Delaney-Smith recorded her 550th win against Fairfield on Nov. 26, becoming the 45th Division I women's head coach to reach that milestone. Delaney-Smith owns a 557-376 (.596) all-time record.
CRIMSON HIT 16 THREES, TIE RECORD
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 two years ago (1/24/15). The Crimson has made at least one three-point field goal in 222-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, with 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 STEP UP
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. Through 12 games in 2016-17, the trio has combined for 23.9 points, 12.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game.