Harvard vs. Princeton
Harvard will put its 16-game winning streak to the test at Penn and Princeton this weekend. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Harvard (16-1, 1-0 Ivy League), off to a historic start in 2016-17, hits the road to take on Penn (10-6, 3-0 Ivy League) and Princeton (7-9, 1-2 Ivy League) this weekend with a chance to break the program record for consecutive wins. Harvard was ranked 4th in the latest ESPNW Mid-Major rankings, 18th in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25, 20th in the NCAA RPI rankings, and received votes in this week's AP Top 25 poll and USA Today/Coaches' Poll.
THE LAST TIME OUT
On Saturday (Jan. 28) sophomore guard Madeline Raster hit a go-ahead jumper with 4.9 seconds remaining to lift Harvard to a 70-68 win over Columbia at Lavietes Pavilion. 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.
ON A ROLL
With 16 wins in a row, Harvard has the third longest winning streak in the nation. Harvard's streak is the longest since a team record 16-game winning streak that took place during the second half of the 2002-03 season.
FROM WAY DOWNTOWN
Through 16 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 (7.3, 64th) and three-point field goal precentage (34.4%, 74th NCAA). Freshman Katie Benzan leads the team with 46 three-pointers on the year and a .447 three-point field goal percentage. (15th, NCAA) She is on pace to near the school record for three-pointers made, held by Erin Maher (80 in 1990-91). With 124 three pointers, 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 week ranked 16th in the nation with an average of 43.2 rebounds per game, and has an average rebounding margin of +7.9 (22nd, NCAA). Harvard recorded a season high 61 rebounds vs. NJIT on Dec. 4, the most for the team in a game since 1993-94. With 735 rebounds, Harvard will near the team's single season rebounding record (1,283 in 2013-14).
Harvard (90 blocks, 5.3 per game) is on pace to near the team record for blocked shots in a season (157, 5.8 per game in 1988-89). Harvard is led by freshman Jeannie Boehm (45 blocks, 2.7 blocks per game, 18th NCAA), the team's top shot-blocker.
• Near the top of the Ivy League standings, Penn appears to be one of Harvard's top challengers for the league crown. The Quakers are 10-6, 3-0 in Ivy League play, but have not played a conference game since Jan. 14, and 86-60 win against Brown. That game was followed by non-conference losses to Villanova and Temple before an 89-43 victory over Stevens Tech on Sunday in its most recent contest.
• One of the most experienced teams in the Ivy League, Penn starts five upperclassmen, led by junior forward Michelle Nwokedi, who is tops on the team in scoring (14.1 ppg) and second in rebounding (9.0 rpg). Senior center Sydney Stipanovich is also a force inside for Penn, averaging 12.6 ppg and 9.6 rpg. Penn leads the league in scoring defense (52.9 points allowed per game).
• The Crimson holds a 49-28 advantage in the all time series against Penn, but the Quakers have won the last six meetings dating back to the 2012-13 season. In the last meeting between the two teams, on Mar. 5, 2016, Harvard fell to Penn, 62-46, at The Palestra. Senior captain AnnMarie Healy paced Harvard with 15 points, adding five rebounds and three steals. Senior captain Kit Metoyer added 11 points, six rebounds and seven assists, matching a career high. Senior Shilpa Tummala posted 10 points and five boards.
• Princeton is coming off a weekend split against Brown (L, 88-98) and Yale (W, 74-62) and sits at 7-9 (1-2 Ivy League). The Tigers had lost five of seven games before the win against Yale on Saturday night.
• While Princeton is also one of the more experienced teams in the Ivy League, with upperclassmen in four of the five regular starting spots, the story for the Tigers has been freshman Bella Alarie, who leads the team in scoring (12.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.7 rpg). Juniors Tia Weledji (9.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and Leslie Robinson (9.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg) have also been important players for Princeton. The Tigers are one of the top rebounding teams (44.2 rpg) in the nation (10th, NCAA), and defend the three-point shot (26.9% against, 13th NCAA) very well.
• Harvard owns a 40-38 record all time against Princeton, but is looking for its first win against the Tigers since Jan. 31, 2014. In the last meeting between the two teems, on March 4, 2016, despite a combined 45 points from senior captains Kit Metoyer and AnnMarie Healy, Harvard could not overcome a strong fourth quarter by Princeton, falling 79-69 at Jadwin Gymnasium.
BENZAN, SKINNER AUTOMATIC AT THE LINE
Freshman Katie Benzan has been near automatic from the foul line at 94.9% (37-for-39). Sophomore guard Sydney Skinner has been just as impressive, hitting 88.5% (46-for-52) from the foul line, which ranks 17th in the country (minimum 2.5 made/game).
CRIMSON COLORED IVY
Since women's basketball joined the Ivy League in 1974-75, the Crimson owns a 652-470 record, tops of all Ancient Eight schools. Harvard is the only Ivy League school with a winning record against all other Ivies.
Dating back to the start of 2011-12, the Crimson is 52-5 when holding opponents to less than 60 points and 90-24 when allowing fewer than 70 points.
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 562-376 (.598) 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 227-consecutive games dating back to 2008-09. The previous streak (172) began during the 1989-90 season and concluded in 1996-97.
Harvard sits at 25-18 all-time in Ivy League openers and 22-13 under head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. Harvard has opened against Dartmouth in 17-straight seasons, with Harvard holding a 11-6 edge in those contests.
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 17 games in 2016-17, the trio has combined for 24.9 points, 11.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game.