LAWRENCE, KS — Harvard and Kansas had only played each other one time before tonight’s (Dec. 7) matchup in Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks got out to a quick start, but lost their spark as the Crimson evened the series at 1-1 with a 69-59 road victory.
What started as the Kansas Jayhawks’ court quickly became a fair fight as Harvard minimized a seven-point deficit and gained a lead they would never lose. Kylee Kopatich started the Jayhawks off with a quick three, which was followed by a steal from Jayde Christopher who popped off another three.
Without even blinking an eye, Kansas was winning by seven before the Crimson even got on the board. Much of that also had to do with Harvard’s forward Jeannie Boehm who had been shut down by Kansas’ 6’3” center Chelsea Lott.
But all good things must come to an end. Boehm quickly adjusted and used her mobility to create open layups, finger rolls, and tip-ins. Boehm started the comeback for Harvard as did Katie Benzan who was 2-3 from beyond the arc in the first half. Harvard hustled the Jayhawks for a 10-3 run to gain the lead back.
“We didn’t play as a team,” senior guard Timeka O’Neal said. “We need to come together.”
Still, Harvard wouldn’t have it easy. Kansas shot a scorching 60 percent from three-point land in the first half— not to mention Jessica Washington who rattled home four points off the bench and nine on the night to give the Jayhawks an extra boost. At the end of the first 20 minutes, the score was 34-33 in Harvard’s favor.
Kansas started the second half determined to win. Chayla Cheadle scored right off the bat, but Harvard reminded the Jayhawks it was their game.
Harvard’s Madeline Raster had two steals within the first three minutes, and Boehm, and Destiny Nunley combined for three blocks within the first three minutes. To keep the trend going, Nani Redford sunk a three to push the Crimson up by nine.
The fourth quarter rolled around, and Harvard went on an 8-0 run as the Jayhawks ran dry. Harvard was scrappy and controlled the game to stay in front the entire second half. In the fourth quarter, they were up by as many as 14 points. The Crimson’s defense also proved to be effective as Kansas struggled to make any clean movements.
“We had opportunities to play over the top of them if we ran the floor,” said Kansas head coach Brandon Schneider. “We didn’t play with the kind of collective effort and toughness you have to play with consistently to be competitive in a game like this.”
Four Harvard players ended the night with double-digit points, but the key player was Raster. She was the second highest scorer with 11 points— but had six rebounds, six steals, three assists and shot over 55 percent (5-9) from the field. From anywhere on the court, whether on the floor or in the air, she was as scrappy as could be.
For the first time playing at Allen Fieldhouse, Harvard acted as if it was their own house. Harvard is now 8-1, and Kansas drops to 3-5 overall this season.