Harvard vs. Columbia
Harvard vs. Cornell
Harvard hits the road to take on Columbia and Cornell this weekend. (Nick Pacino)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Harvard (18-3, 6-2 Ivy League) continues Ivy League play this weekend with two road contests at Columbia (12-9, 2-6 Ivy League) and Cornell (12-9, 3-5 Ivy League). Harvard has a chance to clinch a spot in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament this weekend with two wins (combined with losses from other teams). Harvard was ranked 4th in the latest ESPNW Mid-Major rankings, and 26th in the NCAA RPI rankings.
At 18-3, Harvard has already clinched its 25th winning season in the 35-year tenure of head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. Harvard is off to its best 21-game start, matching an 18-3 mark from three other seasons in program history (1976-77, 1987-88, 1997-98). Harvard is in search of its 12th 20-win season (and first since 2013-14), all during Delaney-Smith's tenure.
THE LAST TIME OUT
Sophomore guard Madeline Raster notched a career-high 24 points, and freshman guard Katie Benzan added her first career double-double with 19 points and 10 assists to lift Harvard to a 76-56 win over Yale at Lavietes Pavilion on Sunday (Feb. 12). Benzan's 10 assists were the most in a game by a Harvard player since Brogan Berry has 10 assists at UMass on Jan. 3, 2012.
LIGHTS OUT FROM THE FIELD
In the win against Yale, Harvard shot 57.1% (28-for-49) from the field, its highest mark in a single game this season, and the best shooting performance by a Harvard team since shoting 58.2% in a win against Columbia on Feb. 14, 2014.
• The Lions sit at 12-9 (2-6 Ivy League) after falling to Penn (64-54) and Princeton (62-52) at home last weekend. Columbia's 10-3 record in non-conference play marked its highest non-conference winning percentage (.769) in program history. All but one of Columbia's conference games have been decided by 10 points or less.
• Columbia is led by Ivy League leading scorer Camille Zimmerman, who is averaging 22.2 ppg. Zimmerman, a junior guard/forward, is also one of the top rebounders in the Ivy League, pulling down 9.7 rebounds per game. Zimmerman is tops in the Ivy League in double-doubles (10) and eighth in field goal percentage (44.6%).
• Senior forward Tori Oliver (10.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg), is also a force for the Lions. Paulina Koerner (8.9 ppg, 2.7 apg) is one of Columbia's top guards. The Lions are ninth in the nation with an average rebounding margin of +9.9.
• Harvard boasts a 60-3 all-time record against Columbia, its best record against any Ivy institution. In the last meeting between the two teems, on Jan. 28, 2017, sophomore guard Madeline Raster hit a go-ahead jumper with 4.9 seconds remaining to lift the 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.
• Cornell lost to Princeton (58-54) and Penn (61-55) in close games last weekened at home dropping the Big Red to 12-9 (3-5 Ivy) on the season. The Cornell-Harvard game will feature the two longest tenured active coaches in the Ivy League, with Harvard's Kathy Delaney-Smith (34th season) and Cornell's Dayna Smith (15th season). Five of the last six meetings between the two schools have been decided by six points or less.
• In its last game, Cornell fell to Penn, 61-55, as Cornell's Megan LeDuc led all scorers with 18 points, and senior Nia Marshall added 15 points, becoming the 23rd player to reach 1,600 points in her career. The Big Red shot 9-of-16 (56.3%) from beyond the arc in the game.
• Cornell is led by Nia Marshall, who ranks third in the Ivy League with an average of 15.7 points per game, and averages 6.6 rebounds per game. Guards Kerri Moran (9.7 ppg, 4.3 apg) and Megan LeDuc (13.0 ppg, 3.4 apg) are two of the best in the Ivy League.
• The Crimson holds a 65-11 advantage in the all time series against Cornell, including a 18-game winning streak dating back to 2008. In the last meeting between the two teams, on Jan. 27, 2017, sophomore guard Sydney Skinner scored a career high 23 points, and junior Taylor Rooks added 13 points, six rebounds, and two steals off the bench to lift Harvard to a 62-59 win over Cornell.
CRIMSON COLORED IVY
Since women's basketball joined the Ivy League in 1974-75, the Crimson owns a 654-472 record, tops of all Ancient Eight schools. Harvard is the only Ivy League women's basketball program with a winning record against all other Ivies.
Harvard (113 blocks, 5.4 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 (52 blocks, 2.5 blocks per game, 21st NCAA), the team's top shot-blocker.
BENZAN AUTOMATIC AT THE LINE
Freshman Katie Benzan has been near automatic from the foul line at 94.4% (51-for-54), leading the Ivy League. Benzan is just shy of the NCAA statistical minimum (2.5 FTs made/game), but would be No. 1 in the nation in free-throw shooting should she exceed the minimum at the same rate.
FROM WAY DOWNTOWN
Through 21 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 (7.2, 67th). Freshman Katie Benzan leads the team with 58 three-pointers on the year and a .439 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 151 three pointers, Harvard is on pace to near the program record for threes in one season (205 in 1995-96 and 2009-10).
CLEANING THE GLASS
Harvard entered the week ranked 19th in the nation with an average of 42.9 rebounds per game, and has an average rebounding margin of +6.2 (38th, 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 900 rebounds, Harvard will near the team's single season rebounding record (1,283 in 2013-14).
STREAK MATCHES SCHOOL RECORD
Harvard's 16-game winning streak, which spanned 79 days over the course of four months (Nov. 15 - Feb. 3), matched the team record 16-game winning streak that took place during the second half of the 2002-03 season.
Dating back to the start of 2011-12, the Crimson is 54-5 when holding opponents to less than 60 points and 92-26 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 564-378 (.599) 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 231-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.
RASTER AND SKINNER STEP UP
Harvard sophomore guards Madeline Raster and Sydney Skinner have thrived in new roles this season. Through 21 games in 2016-17, the duo has combined for 20.8 points (31.0% of team scoring), 9.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Skinner notched a career high 23 points in a 62-59 win over Cornell (Jan. 27), and Raster went for a career best 24 points in Harvard's 76-56 win over Yale (Feb. 12).