Maybe returning home for the first time since Jan. 1 will provide the offensive spark the Seattle University women’s basketball team has been searching for. It had better, as the Redhawks’ opponent today – Harvard – boasts a talented and balanced scoring attack and SU will need to score to keep up.
Seattle (5-15) and the Crimson (8-6) will tip off at 4 p.m. at the Connolly Center.
Seattle U is coming off a winless four-game road trip and has now lost 8 of its last 9. And while the Redhawks have played decent defense, they just haven’t been able to score. Only Elle Kerfoot (11.6) and Salena Dickerson (11.3) are scoring in double figures, and in fact, no other player is averaging over 6 a game. And even Kerfoot and Dickerson haven’t shot particularly well for a team shooting 36 percent overall. Seattle University has scored more than 66 points just once this season, and that’s not particularly good news given it’s playing a Harvard team averaging 75 a game. Redhawks head coach Joan Bonvicini has tried desperately to find the right combination, with only Kerfoot and Dickerson starting all 20 games.
The good news, though, is that while Harvard is having another solid season under head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, the Crimson is only 2-5 on the road.
Still, Delaney-Smith always seems to put out a strong team and this year’s version is no different. In 28 seasons at Harvard, Delaney-Smith has become the all-time winningest Ivy League women’s basketball coach ever, and trails only former Princeton men’s coach Pete Carrill among basketball coaches of either gender. Her teams have won 11 Ivy League titles, gone to the NCAA tournament six times and have a .500 or better record in 21 of the last 22 seasons.
This year’s team returns three all-league picks, including first-teamer Emma Markley and second-teamers Brogan Berry and Victoria Lippert.
The 6-foot-3 Markley is Harvard’s big presence inside, averaging 12.9 points and 5.8 rebounds, and she has 27 blocked shots after leading the league in that category last season. She should prove to be a matchup challenge for Seattle U’s Carley Butcher, who will need help from reserves Kacie Sowell and Tatiana Heck to handle Markley.
But where Harvard really shines is on the perimeter. The Crimson is shooting 37 percent on 3-pointers and boasts a talented group of guards. Berry is regarded as the top point guard in the Ivy League and averages a team-best 14.4 points, shoots 44 percent on 3-pointers and has 60 assists. But it’s the height of the 6-foot Lippert and 5-11 freshman Christine Clark that could give Seattle U trouble, as 5-8 Julee Christianson and the 5-7 Kerfoot will likely draw those defensive assignments. Lippert averages 12.9 points on 44.6 3-point shooting, and Clark, an extremely fast, athletic first-year player, averages 12.3 points, shoots 57 percent from the field and 47.8 percent on 3-pointers.
What: Harvard (8-6) at Seattle University (5-15)
When: 4 p.m. today
Where: The Connolly Center
Broadcast: Live on www.goseattleu.com
Coaches: Harvard: Kathy Delaney-Smith, 28th season (447-314 at Harvard and overall); Seattle University: Joan Bonvicini, second season (11-39 at SU, 617-309 overall).
Projected starting lineups
F. Emma Markley 6-3 Sr. Yorktown Heights, N.Y.: First-team All-Ivy League after leading league in blocks last season, passed 1,000 career points this season.
F. Miriam Rutzen 6-1 So. Blandinsville, Ill.: Key reserve last season getting chance to start this year.
G. Brogan Berry 5-8 Jr. Beavercreek, Ohio: Second-team All-Ivy League last season is top point guard in the league.
G. Christine Clark 5-11 Fr. Tucson: A top-60 national recruit who was a three-time Arizona prep player of the year and won three state titles in track.
G. Victoria Lippert 6-0 So. San Diego: Second-team All-Ivy as a freshman after finishing fifth in the league in scoring.
F. Julee Christianson 5-8 Sr. Missoula: Has started last two games in ever-revolving lineup.
F. Salena Dickerson 5-11 Sr. Federal Way: Second on the team in scoring, first in rebounding.
C. Carley Butcher 6-1 So. Pitt Meadows, British Columbia: Seems established as a starter, scored 18 points in last two games.
G. Elle Kerfoot 5-7 Jr. Surrey, British Columbia: Leads team in scoring, assists.
G. Daidra Brown 5-7 So. Seattle: Among nation’s leaders, averaging 3.1 steals a game.