Junior Taylor Rooks scored nine points off the bench for Harvard to help lift the Crimson past Columbia. (Mike McLaughlin / Columbia University Athletics)
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Senior forward Destiny Nunley scored a team-high 20 points, adding seven rebounds and two blocks to lead Harvard women's basketball (19-3, 7-2 Ivy League) to a 58-55 win over Columbia (12-10, 2-7 Ivy League) at Levien Gymnasium.
Freshman guard Katie Benzan added 12 points, five rebounds and four assists, and junior Taylor Rooks scored nine points off the bench for Harvard, which used an early fourth quarter run to build a 53-44 lead, then played solid defense late to hold on for the win.
Leading 45-44 with just under nine minutes to go in the final frame, Harvard held Columbia without a field goal for a span of 6:14. While Harvard tightened up on the defensive end, it continued to attack inside with Nunley, who scored all eight points in an 8-0 run to extend Harvard's lead to nine with 5:06 to go.
The run was capped off by great transition layup with the basketball hardly touching the floor, as Skinner fed the ball up court to Raster, who found Nunley all alone underneath the basket.
Columbia slowly chipped away at Harvard's lead in the waning minutes of the game, cutting it all the way to one at 56-55 with :19 to play. But needing a stop late, Harvard got it, as Columbia's Tori Oliver traveled with Rooks applying pressure in the paint.
Harvard got off to a hot start from the field, hitting 7-of-13 in the first quarter and using a 16-2 run to take a 12-point lead (16-4), a run that was capped off by Benzan's corner three with 1:17 to go in the frame.
Rooks came off the bench in the second quarter and provided a lift, as junior guard Kirby Porter found her twice underneath the basket for layups early, as Harvard led 24-15 after the second Rooks bucket with 6:26 to go in the half.
The Crimson maintained the lead late in the second quarter, as Benzan came off a screen to hit a three from straight away with 17 seconds to go, helping Harvard to a nine-point margin (33-24) at the break.
Columbia used a 13-2 run to pull ahead at 37-35 midway through third quarter. But Harvard pulled down two offensive rebounds on the same possession, with sophomore guard Madeline Raster hitting free throws to tie the game. Later in the quarter, with Columbia ahead by three at 42-39, sophomore guard Sydney Skinner poked the ball away from Camille Zimmerman to Benzan, who found Nunley on the opposite end of the floor for an open layup. Two Benzan free throws late in the quarter put Harvard back in front 43-42 heading into the fourth.
Harvard will finish the weekend with a road contest at Cornell tomorrow night at 5:00 p.m. The game will be streamed on the Ivy League Digital Network.
To watch the complete game archive of Harvard-Columbia click here.