An explosive start, bolstered by sophomore guard Katie Benzan’s 17 first-half points, anchored Harvard women’s basketball in its 76-65 victory over Dartmouth Saturday night at Lavietes Pavilion. The win splits the season series 1-1 with the Big Green in the Crimson’s first home Ivy League game of the season, making Harvard 6-0 at home this season.
“I think today was our first good game of 40 solid, good minutes,” Benzan said. “[We had] good intensity, good defense, patience on offense, so it was good to have a solid full 40 minutes tonight.”
An early offensive burst allowed the Crimson (9-6, 1-1 Ivy) to take the lead only 7:22 into the match, a lead Harvard would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.
The run began 20 seconds into the contest when junior co-captain Madeline Raster drilled a three from the corner. The Crimson then proceeded to snag five offensive rebounds in the first four minutes, dominating the glass.
Dartmouth (9-6, 1-1) wasn’t done yet. The team compensated and reversed course, earing the early 9-5 lead for the Big Green. Benzan answered with a layup and three-pointer. Dartmouth refused to be overpowered and jumped back on top 16-13. Harvard answered with an 11-0 run.
Sophomore forward Jeannie Boehm struck first, returning the Crimson to within one with a layup. From that point, Harvard nailed three-straight shots from beyond the arc. Benzan hit first, this time from the left wing. On the ensuing possession following a steal by sophomore Jeannie Boehm, Benzan nailed her fourth three-pointer of the first quarter. She would finish the first half going 5-6 from beyond the arc.
“We made major adjustments to what we did offensively in the first game against Dartmouth,” coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said. “We shared the ball and we weren’t as impatient, and when we make decisions a little more slowly when we have the ball we can find all kinds of scorers, because we have scorers on this team.”
Raster capped off the offensive quarter with a deep three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Crimson a 24-16 lead, ending the quarter on an 11-0 run. Harvard hit six three-pointers in the opening frame, accounting for 75 percent of its points.
The Crimson extended its run into the second quarter, with junior guard Sydney Skinner hitting a layup and three-pointer, capping off the 16-0 run for Harvard. On the next trip down the court, Skinner knocked down her second straight three.
“We just shared the ball really well and found the open person no matter who it was,” Benzan said. “That’s how we got great shots every possession.”
Things got dicey for the Crimson in the second quarter when the Big Green posted a quick 5-0 run of their own. The momentum was short-lived, however, following yet another three-pointer from Skinner. Benzan would follow up with a three of her own to stretch the lead to 42-26, Harvard’s biggest lead of the half.
Prior to the break, Dartmouth was able to chip away at the Crimson’s lead, making it 46-36 at the end of the first half.
The match was shooting heavy for both Benzan and Skinner, both of whom eclipsed 20 points on the game. For Benzan, it was the second time this season that she reached the 20-point mark in a matchup. Boehm achieved her third triple double on the season with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
It was on rebounds that the Crimson outpaced the Big Green the most. Harvard managed 41 to Dartmouth’s 26. From that, the team dominated in second chance points, with one more than double Dartmouth’s 13, and fast break points, 6-0.
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