Harvard's Destiny Nunley hit the game-winning shot with 1.9 seconds to play to lift Harvard past La Salle. (Gil Talbot)
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – With 1.9 seconds left to play in the fourth quarter, senior captain Destiny Nunley hit a baseline jumper to lift the Harvard women's basketball team (13-1, 1-0 Ivy) to a 66-64 win over La Salle (9-7). The basket was part of a big night for Nunley, who had 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead Harvard to a big road win, as the Crimson closed out non-conference play with 12 wins in 13 non-league games.
Sophomore guard Madeline Raster added 12 points, six rebounds, and three steals, and freshman forward Jeannie Boehm added 10 points and five rebounds for Harvard, which won its 13th straight game, the second-longest winning streak in program history.
On the deciding play, Harvard had possession with 35.5 left in regulation and the game tied at 64-64. Harvard ran the clock down and Raster's short jumper rimmed out. But Raster tipped the ball back out to Sydney Skinner, who drove the lane and passed to Boehm.
Boehm shoveled the ball to Nunley, who hit the short jumper to put Harvard ahead for good. On the final possession, La Salle's Amy Griffin missed a long jumper, and Crimson had its 13th win of the year.
Harvard battled to find any shooting rhythm in the first half, falling behind 32-22 at the break after hitting just 30.3% from the field. Benzan's coast-to-coast layup with under a minute to play in the first quarter helped the Crimson stop a 6-0 run for the Explorers and cut the La Salle lead to 18-10.
Sophomore guard Nani Redford kept Harvard close in the second quarter, providing energy off the bench. She hit two free throws after drawing a foul on a drive through traffic, then hit a turnaround hook shot on Harvard's next possession to make it 19-16 La Salle with 6:35 to play in the half. Harvard kept it a two possession game for most of the second quarter, as Nunley's jumper from the free-throw line made it 28-22 with 2:41 to go.
The Crimson went scoreless the rest of the quarter, but turned it on in right from the start of the second half. Harvard scored 28 points in the third quarter, keyed by a 10-0 run midway through the frame that pushed the Crimson ahead 46-43 on Nunley's baseline drive with 1:59 to go in the quarter. La Salle evened the score at 50-50 just before the end of the frame, setting up an exciting finish.
In a back-and-forth fourth quarter, neither team led by more than two points. Harvard made the big plays down the stretch, starting with Skinner's end-to-end drive and layup with Harvard trailing 62-60 to tie the game. With under a minute to go, a steal by Raster on the baseline after a Harvard missed shot led to a layup for Boehm, pushing Harvard ahead, 64-62. Two free throws by La Salle set up the heroics by Nunley.
Harvard will be in action next Saturday (Jan. 21) at Dartmouth as the Crimson head into the heart of Ivy League play.
Game Notes: Harvard is now 2-1 in the all-time series against La Salle…On Dec. 4, 1999, Harvard took third place at the ECAC Holiday Festival with a 74-71 win over La Salle in Worcester, Mass. in the last meeting between the two teams.