Harvard won its opening round game of the WNIT against New Hampshire on Friday night. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Harvard (21-8, 8-6 Ivy League) will take on St. John's (21-11, 11-7) in the second round of the WNIT, marking the fourth time in program history that the Crimson has appeared in round 2 of the WNIT.
Harvard is making its fifth appearance in the WNIT over the past six seasons the program's 13th postseason appearance overall. Harvard and St. John's have played three times, with the Red Storm owning a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series. All three games have been decided by seven points or less. St. John's won the last meeting with an 81-76 victory at Carnesecca Arena on Dec. 1, 2013. The winner of Sunday's game will advance to play Michigan in the round of 16.
HARVARD AND THE WNIT
Harvard has made seven appearances in the WNIT, most among Ivy League schools, and on March 15, 2012 the Crimson earned the first WNIT win in Ancient Eight history with its 73-71 victory at Hofstra. Harvard followed that victory up a year later with a 61-57 win at Hartford in the first round of the 2013 tournament. The Crimson became the first team in conference history to earn an at-large berth to a postseason tournament with an invitation to the WNIT in 2014.
THE LAST TIME OUT
Harvard kicked off the Women's NIT with a resounding 69-56 win over New Hampshire on Friday at Lundholm Gymnasium. The Crimson shot 51.7% (30-for-58) from the field with senior forward Destiny Nunley leading the charge. Nunley went 9-for-10 from the floor for a team-high 19 points, adding five rebounds. Freshman guard Katie Benzan added 15 points, six rebounds, and five assists, junior guard Taylor Rooks added 12 points off the bench, and sophomore guard Madeline Raster pitched in 11 points for Harvard, which improved to 13-1 against non-Ivy teams this year.
BENZAN BREAKS PROGRAM RECORD FOR THREES
Freshman Katie Benzan leads the team with 82 three-pointers on the year and a .394 three-point field goal percentage.
With 3 three-pointers against New Hampshire on Friday night, Benzan broke the school record for three-pointers made in a single season, previously held by Erin Maher '93 (80 in 1990-91).
ABOUT ST. JOHN'S
• St. John's leads the BIG EAST in many major defensive categories. Entering the WNIT, St. John's led the conference in points allowed per game (55.6), opponents' field goal percentage (37.0 percent) and opponents' three point field goal percentage (currently 24.2 percent). Additionally, the Johnnies three-point field goal defense leads the nation.
• Senior Jade Walker, an All BIG EAST First Team selection, is St. John's leading scorer, averaging 13.8 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per contest. Two other players for the Red Storm average in double figures - Akina Wellere (11.6 points per game) and Aaliyah Lewis (11.2 points per game).
• St. John's beat Sacred Heart, 72-43, in the opening round of the WNIT. As a unit, the Red Storm shot an even 50.0 percent from the floor, connecting on 32 of its 64 tries on the night. St. John's did a lot of damage down low, amassing 38 points in the paint while winning the battle of the boards, 38-36. Walker and Wellere each had 18 to lead St. John's.
• On Dec. 1, 2013, in the last meeting between the two teams, Despite 20 points from Temi Fagbenle, Harvard fell to St. John's, 81-76 at Carnesecca Arena. The Crimson had four players register double-figures, led by Fagbenle who added eight rebounds and two assists. Christine Clark posted 12 points and seven rebounds, while Elise Gordon (11 points, eight rebounds) and Erin McDonnell (10 points) rounded out the quartet.
20 IS A MAGIC NUMBER
At 21-8, 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.
Harvard (150 blocks, 5.2 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 (66 blocks, 2.3 blocks per game), 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 (2.2 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.
FEASTER A LEGEND 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).
FROM WAY DOWNTOWN
Through 29 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 (6.9, 81st). Freshman Katie Benzan leads the team with 82 three-pointers on the year and a .394 three-point field goal percentage. Benzan broke the school record for three-pointers made in a season, previously held by Erin Maher (80 in 1990-91). With 197 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 21st in the nation averaging 42.3 rebounds per game, and has an average rebounding margin of +4.4. Harvard recorded a season high 61 rebounds vs. NJIT on Dec. 4, the most for the team in a game since 1993-94. With 1,223 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 56-7 when holding opponents to less than 60 points and 94-31 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 28 games in 2016-17, the duo has combined for 19.1 points (29.6% of team scoring), 9.2 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 567-383 (.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 is 9-5 in road contests during the 2016-17 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.