The Harvard women’s basketball team (18-11 overall, 10-4 Ivy) used a 12-0 record at the renovated Lavietes Pavilion, including a late season sweep of Penn and Princeton, to claim third place in the Ivy League. In addition to attending the Ivy Tournament for the second time, the Crimson completed the season with its 15th straight year in the league’s top three and its 14th postseason appearance.
Harvard was led by sophomore guard Katie Benzan, who was selected to the All-Ivy first team for the second time and was the only player chosen unanimously. Benzan was eighth in the conference with 13.5 points and fifth with 3.5 assists per game. Her 3.41 made threes per contest and three point shooting rate of 45.0 percent not only led the Ancient Eight, but were 12th and sixth in the nation, respectively. Jeannie Boehm, a sophomore forward, was named second-team All-Ivy after averaging 9.5 points (on 50.4 percent shooting), 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a game.
The Crimson lost two to players to graduation, Taylor Rooks and Kirby Porter, who both started each game this past season. Rooks, a transfer from Stanford, averaged 12.5 points (on 47.7 percent shooting) and 7.3 rebounds a game on her way to being chosen to the All-Ivy second team. Porter, the team’s co-captain, started 56 of the team’s last 57 games, and was one of the team’s best on-ball defenders the last several years.
Harvard will look to Jadyn Bush and Sydney Skinner to fill the starting roles left open by the departure of Rooks and Porter. Bush, a 5’ 11” first year forward who played in all 29 games last season, finished league play averaging 7.4 points (on 59.1 percent shooting) and 5.5 rebounds over 19.0 minutes a game. Skinner, a rising senior guard and co-captain of next year’s team, was arguably the conference’s best bench player. In Ivy contests, she averaged 24.4 minutes, 10.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.4 steals a game. Madeline Raster, a 29-game starter and two-time co-captain who averaged 30.8 minutes, 9.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game, will complete next season’s starting lineup.
Coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, who will enter her 37th season at Cambridge, announced the addition of two players from Massachusetts, Maggie McCarthy and Tess Sussman, to add depth to next year’s squad while gaining experience for the program’s future. McCarthy, a 5’ 10” guard from Medfield High School, totaled 1,482 points and 416 steals in her career. This past season she averaged 19.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.5 steals, and 4.3 assists per game as she collected her third consecutive Tri-Valley League MVP award to go along with a spot on the USA Today All-Massachusetts Girls’ Basketball team. Sussman, a 5’ 11” guard from The Rivers School and AAU teammate of McCarthy, scored over 1,000 points and was named to the All-NEPSAC All-Star team three times. According to a June 2017 post at Select Hoops by Alex DaLuz, Sussman may not put up big numbers, but she is one of New England’s best players since she can play all five positions, pass with precision, shoot from three, get to the rim, defend in the passing lanes and block shots.