Freshman guard Katie Benzan scored a game-high 16 points against Cornell. (Gil Talbot)
ITHACA, N.Y. – Despite a game-high 16 points from freshman guard Katie Benzan, Harvard women's basketball (19-4, 7-3 Ivy League) fell 57-52 to Cornell (14-9, 5-5 Ivy League) at Newman Arena on Saturday night (Feb. 18).
Sophomore guard Madeline Raster added 13 points and nine rebounds, and senior forward Destiny Nunley notched 12 points for the Crimson. Harvard fell despite holding its sixth straight opponent under 60 points.
Leading by one point heading into the fourth quarter, Harvard was held without a field goal for the first 5:42 of the fourth quarter, as Cornell pulled ahead 50-44. Benzan's three pointer with 4:18 to go made it a one-possession game, then after getting a stop, Raster hit a layup after two offensive rebounds for the Crimson to make it 50-49 with 3:20 to play.
But Cornell held off the Crimson in the final minutes, as Harvard had several shots rim out at the end.
Raster was great early for Harvard, scoring eight points to help Harvard mount a 11-2 run after falling behind early. She hit a three pointer with 6:12 to go in the quarter to give the Crimson its first lead of the game at 10-9.
The Crimson forced four straight Cornell turnovers in the midst of the run, building a 14-11 lead with a minute to play in the quarter. Cornell scored on its last two possessions to take a one-point lead (15-14) heading into the break.
Harvard's great defense continued in the second quarter, as the Crimson allowed just four Cornell points in a span of 12:06 midway through the first quarter to the end of the second quarter.
Meanwhile, the Crimson pushed the lead to 22-16, as sophomore guard Sydney Skinner grabbed a loose ball in the paint and fed Nunley for a three-pointer that beat the shot clock with 7:36 to go in the half.
Late in the second quarter, Cornell broke out of its shooting slump to pull ahead briefly at 23-22 after a 7-0 run, capped off by two Nia Marshall free throws with 2:40 to go in the half.
But a great pass from Raster to freshman forward Jeannie Boehm for a layup on the next possession put Harvard back in front. Junior Taylor Rooks grabbed an offensive rebound for a put back, and on Harvard's last possession of the half, Benzan came off a screen and hit a three-pointer, her second of the half, to give the Crimson a 29-24 lead at the break.
Harvard scored 11 points off nine Cornell turnovers in the first half, and hit five three-pointers.
Benzan kept up the hot shooting with her third three-pointer of the game to put Harvard ahead 32-25 early in the third quarter. Cornell battled to make it a one-possession game as Harvard cooled off, but a late shot-clock drive by Skinner, followed by great feed from Skinner to Porter for a layup helped Harvard stay in front at 42-41 heading into the fourth quarter.
Harvard will take on Yale and Brown in road contests next weekend, starting with a Friday night (Feb. 24) contest in New Haven. The game will air on ESPN3 and the Ivy League Digital Network.
To watch the complete game archive of Harvard-Cornell, click here.