Sophomore Madeline Raster hit the game-winning jumper with 4.9 seconds to play to lift Harvard past Columbia. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Sophomore guard Madeline Raster hit a go-ahead jumper with 4.9 seconds remaining to lift the Harvard women's basketball team (16-1, 4-0 Ivy League) to a 70-68 win over Columbia (11-6, 1-3 Ivy League) at Lavietes Pavilion.
With the game tied, Harvard had possession with 24 seconds to go and shot clock off and Raster got the ball at the top of the key. She drove to her right then pulled up for a fall-away jumper from 15 feet away that put the Crimson ahead for good. Columbia's Camille Zimmerman (22 points) missed a short jumper at the buzzer and Harvard held on for its 16th straight win, matching a program record.
"I wanted Murph (Madeline) to get the ball at the top with eight seconds left, and she went hard at the defender, stopped on a dime and elevated for the shot," said Harvard head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. "That was the call and we executed the play."
Freshman forward Jeannie Boehm had a career night for the Crimson, notching 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Freshman guard Katie Benzan notched 20 points and five assists, and Raster came up big for Harvard, with 18 points including her big final shot.
The Crimson improved to 8-0 at Lavietes Pavilion, and solidified a spot atop the Ivy League standings at 4-0 in league play.
With Harvard leading by 12 points to start the second half, Columbia slowly chipped away at the Crimson lead.
Columbia took its first lead of the second half on Zimmerman's corner three pointer, leading 56-55 with 8:00 to go in the fourth quarter.
Skinner's offensive rebound and put back put Harvard back ahead and Raster hit a three pointer from the wing to put Harvard ahead by four at 60-56 with 4:01 to go.
But Columbia answered, making it a one-point game at 65-64 after Devon Roeper's two free throws with 1:50 to play. It remained a one possession game with Harvard ahead 68-66 in the final minute when Zimmerman hit a short jumper off a Columbia inbounds play to tie the game at 68-68 with 24.0 seconds to go, setting up Raster's heroics.
Harvard got off to a slow start as Boehm's hook shot with 4:20 to play in the opening quarter made it 8-2 Columbia. That basket started an 8-0 run for Harvard, capped off by a Benzan three-pointer to make it 8-8.
Trailing 16-13 with under a minute to play in the first quarter, Benzan hit another three-pointer from the wing to tie the game heading into the first break.
Skinner, the hero from a night ago, got going in the second quarter with a corner three pointer, putting Harvard ahead 23-19 with 5:55 to go in the half.
Later in the half, Harvard extended the lead to nine as Benzan drove through traffic for a tough layup, which was followed by Raster's corner three to put Harvard up 32-23 with 3:00 to go.
After Columbia cut the lead to five points at 32-27, Harvard closed the frame with a 7-0 run. Boehm's block at one led to her tough hook shot at the other. On Harvard's next trip, Benzan hit her third three of the first half and then with time winding down the in quarter, Raster hit a long two-pointer to make it 39-27 Harvard at halftime.
Nunley scored five quick points in the third quarter to help Harvard maintain a double digit lead early in the second half. Columbia cut the lead to eight at 47-39, but Raster's baseline jumper on an inbounds play pushed the Harvard lead back to 10 with 3:50 to play.
Columbia continued to push, using a 5-0 run to make it 49-45 just over a minute later. Benzan's runner in the lane, and Boehm's turnaround hook shot answered Columbia baskets to help Harvard stay in front, and the Crimson led 53-48 heading into the fourth.
Harvard will take on Penn and Princeton in road contests next weekend, starting with a trip to Philadelphia to face the Quakers on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. The game will air on ESPN3 and the Ivy League Digital Network.
To watch the complete game archive of Harvard-Columbia, click here.
NOTES: Harvard is now 60-3 in the all-time series against Columbia…This marked the first time this season that Harvard has had three scorers with 18 or more points (Boehm, Benzan, and Raster), and two scorers with 20 or more points (Boehm and Benzan)…Harvard's 16-game winning streak matches the program record set during the 2002-03 season.