Harvard vs. Princeton
Harvard heads to the inaugural Ivy League Tournament and will face Princeton at The Palestra on Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Harvard (20-7, 8-6 Ivy League) begins postseason play this weekend at the inaugural Ivy League Tournament, held at The Palestra in Philadelphia, Pa. Harvard will take on second-seeded Princeton in a semifinal contest at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday (March 11). The Crimson qualified for "Ivy Madness" by finishing third in the conference standings, Harvard's 12th-straight top-3 finish in league play. Harvard was ranked 44th in the NCAA RPI rankings, the highest of any Ivy League school.
20 IS A MAGIC NUMBER
At 20-7, Harvard 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 twelfth 20-win season (and first since 2013-14), all during Delaney-Smith's tenure.
FEASTER AMONG LEGENDS OF IVY BASKETBALL
The Ivy League will honor Allison Feaster '98 this weekend at the inaugural Ivy League Tournament as one of Harvard's first Legends of Ivy League Basketball. A three-time Ivy League Player of the Year and four-time First-Team All-Ivy selection, Feaster led the Crimson to three-straight Ivy League titles in 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98 and is Harvard's all-time leader in points (2,312), rebounds (1,157), offensive rebounds (440), steals (290), field goals made (771) and free throws made (475).
THE LAST TIME OUT
On Saturday, senior forward Destiny Nunley notched her team leading sixth double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but Harvard fell, 64-46, to Penn. Freshman guard Katie Benzan added 11 points, her ninth straight game in double-figures.
• Princeton (15-12, 9-5 Ivy League) clinched the No. 2 seed in the Ivy League Tournament with a win at Harvard (64-60) last Friday night, but has lost three of the last four games, including a 52-40 loss at Penn on Tuesday night. The Tigers won both games against Harvard this season, including the first meeting on Feb. 4, a 63-58 overtime victory.
• 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 (12.6 ppg). Junior Leslie Robinson who leads the team in rebounding (7.5 rpg), assists (2.7 apg), and is second in scoring (10.2 ppg), has also been a force for the Tigers.. The Tigers are one of the top rebounding teams (43.2 rpg) in the nation (14th, NCAA), and defend the three-point shot (28.7% against, 45th NCAA) very well.
• Harvard is 40-40 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 3, 2017, a big second half comeback for Harvard fell just short, as the Crimson fell to Princeton, 64-60, at Lavietes Pavilion. Sophomore Madeline Raster led the Crimson with 16 points, including five three-pointers, while sophomore Sydney Skinner added 14 points and four assists. Freshman guard Katie Benzan also scored in double-figures, adding 13 points and four assists.
CRIMSON COLORED IVY
Since women's basketball joined the Ivy League in 1974-75, the Crimson owns a 656-476 record, tops of all Ancient Eight schools. Harvard is the only Ivy League women's basketball program with a .500 or better record against all other Ivies.
Harvard (145 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 (64 blocks, 2.4 blocks per game, 28th NCAA), the team's top shot-blocker.
BENZAN AUTOMATIC AT THE LINE
Freshman Katie Benzan has been near automatic from the foul line at 94.1% (64-for-68), leading the Ivy League. Benzan (2.4 FTs made/game) 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 27 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, 72nd). Freshman Katie Benzan leads the team with 77 three-pointers on the year and a .395 three-point field goal percentage. (47th, NCAA) She is on pace to break the school record for three-pointers made, held by Erin Maher (80 in 1990-91). With 190 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 20th in the nation averaging 42.6 rebounds per game, and has an average rebounding margin of +5.0 (56th, 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 1,150 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 94-30 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 27 games in 2016-17, the duo has combined for 19.1 points (29.6% of team scoring), 9.3 rebounds and 4.4 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 566-382 (.597) all-time record.
Harvard has posted .500-or-better records away from home in five of the last six seasons. Harvard was 7-9 away from Lavietes in 2015-16. The Crimson finished the 2016-17 season 8-5 in road contests this season.
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 school 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 235-consecutive games dating back to 2008-09. The previous streak (172) began during the 1989-90 season and concluded in 1996-97.