Harvard vs. Princeton
Harvard vs. Penn
Harvard will honor seniors Taylor Finley, Grace Keane, and Destiny Nunley on Saturday. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The Crimson will honor its three seniors this weekend - co-captains Taylor Finley and Destiny Nunley, and Grace Keane, as Harvard (20-5, 8-4 Ivy League) closes out the regular season at home against Princeton (14-10, 8-3 Ivy League) and Penn (17-7, 10-1 Ivy League) this weekend. Harvard, which has clinched a spot in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament (March 11-12 at The Palestra), could finish anywhere from 2nd-4th in the league standings. Harvard was ranked 28th in the NCAA RPI rankings.
HOME SWEET HOME
Harvard carries into the weekend a perfect 10-0 record at Lavietes Pavilion. The Crimson last went unbeaten at home during the 2012-13 season (11-0). Harvard has a chance to match the 2009-10 team for most wins at Lavietes (12) in a single season.
At 20-5, Harvard has already clinched its 25th winning season in the 35-year tenure of head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. Harvard is approaching the program mark for wins in a single season, as the legendary 1997-98 team finished the season 23-5. Harvard clinched its 12th 20-win season (and first since 2013-14), all during Delaney-Smith's tenure.
THE LAST TIME OUT
Freshman guard Katie Benzan recorded a career high 24 points, and freshman forward Jeannie Boehm (12 points, 11 rebounds) and senior forward Destiny Nunley (10 points, 12 rebounds) each added double-doubles as Harvard beat Brown, 66-63, in its final road contest of the season.
• Princeton (14-10, 8-3 Ivy League) saw an eight-game winning streak in Ivy League play come to an end last Saturday in a 55-44 loss to Cornell at home. The Big Red outscored Princeton 17-6 in the fourth quarter to claim the win. The Tigers are still in contention for the Ivy League regular season title, but would need help from Penn.
• 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 (12.7 ppg). Junior Leslie Robinson who leads the team in rebounding (7.7 rpg) and is second in scoring (10.2 ppg) and assists (2.87 apg), has also been a force for the Tigers.. The Tigers are one of the top rebounding teams (43.6 rpg) in the nation (13th, NCAA), and defend the three-point shot (27.5% against, 16th NCAA) very well.
• Harvard owns a 40-39 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 Feb. 4, 2017, freshman guard Katie Benzan had 17 points, and senior forward Destiny Nunley added 11 points and 11 rebounds, but Harvard fell, 63-58, in overtime at Jadwin Gymnasium.The Crimson rallied from a 10-point second half deficit to force overtime, but Harvard was unable to overcome the Tigers in the extra frame.
• This weekend, Penn (17-7, 10-1 Ivy League) could clinch the Ivy regular season championship and No. 1 seed in the Ivy League Tournament as early as Friday, with a win against Dartmouth and Princeton loss at Harvard. The Quakers currently own the third-best scoring defense in the nation, holding opponents to just 52.4 points per game. If the numbers hold, it would mark the seventh-consecutive year the Red and Blue have nished the season holding their opposition to under 60 points each 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 (13.7 ppg) and rebounding (9.9 rpg). Senior center Sydney Stipanovich is also a force inside for Penn, averaging 10.1 ppg and 7.0 rpg.
• The Crimson holds a 49-29 advantage in the all time series against Penn, but the Quakers have won the last seven meetings dating back to the 2012-13 season. In the last meeting between the two teams, on Feb.. 3, 2017, a program record 16-game winning streak came to an end as Harvard could not overcome an off night from the field (26.3%). Sophomore guard Sydney Skinner had 11 points, and classmate Madeline Raster added 10 points and six rebounds.
CRIMSON COLORED IVY
Since women's basketball joined the Ivy League in 1974-75, the Crimson owns a 656-474 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 (135 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 (61 blocks, 2.4 blocks per game, 24th NCAA), the team's top shot-blocker.
BENZAN AUTOMATIC AT THE LINE
Freshman Katie Benzan has been near automatic from the foul line at 93.7% (59-for-63), leading the Ivy League. Benzan is just shy of the NCAA statistical minimum (2.5 FTs/game), but would be No. 2 in the nation in free-throw shooting should she exceed the minimum at the same rate.
FROM WAY DOWNTOWN
Through 25 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 (7.0, 74th). Freshman Katie Benzan leads the team with 72 three-pointers on the year and a .407 three-point field goal percentage. (33rd, NCAA) She is on pace to near the school record for three-pointers made, held by Erin Maher (80 in 1990-91). With 175 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 43.2 rebounds per game (15th, NCAA), and has an average rebounding margin of +6.2 (37th, 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 1,081 rebounds, Harvard will near the team's single season rebounding record (1,283 in 2013-14).
Dating back to the start of 2011-12, the Crimson is 55-7 when holding opponents to less than 60 points and 94-28 when allowing fewer than 70 points.
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.
STREAK MATCHES SCHOOL RECORD
Harvard's 16-game winning streak, which spanned 79 days over the course of four calendar 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.
RASTER AND SKINNER STEP UP
Harvard sophomore guards Madeline Raster and Sydney Skinner have thrived in new roles this season. Through 23 games in 2016-17, the duo has combined for 19.1 points (29.2% of team scoring), 9.5 rebounds and 4.3 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).
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 566-380 (.599) all-time record.