Women's basketball conquers opponents in Empire State road trip

by Lili Stern | 2/11/19 2:25am

When the Dartmouth women’s basketball team packed for its trip to New York this weekend, they packed grit. The Big Green came out victorious in two hard-fought battles against Cornell University and Columbia University, bringing the team to an even 3-3 in Ivy play and a winning 10-9 record overall for the season thus far. 

The Big Green started their road stand on Cornell’s home court, with aspirations to win their first game there since the 2009-10 season. They succeeded, leaving Ithaca on top 63-56 after a close, hard-fought battle with the Big Red. The Green and White shot a solid 50 percent from 3-point range and 44 percent from the field to counter Cornell’s aggressive half-court zone.

After suffering from slow starts for much of the season, the Big Green came out in a tear on Friday night, with back-to-back 3’s from Cy Lippold ’19 and Isalys Quinones ’19 giving their team a 6-0 advantage within the first two minutes of the game. The Big Red quickly punched back with a 10-2 run, broken up only by a pair of free throws from Lippold, giving the home team a 10-8 lead. Annie McKenna ’20 ended Cornell’s run and shifted the momentum back toward the Big Green with a 3-pointer with just over three minutes to go in the first quarter, giving the Big Green a lead it would hold onto until the beginning of the second half. Dartmouth ended the quarter with a six-point lead.

Though the Big Red outscored the Big Green 17-13 in the second quarter, the visitors never relinquished their lead. The Big Green shot its lowest percentage from the field of any quarter in the game, finding the bottom of the net on just four of its 14 shots, and the team pulled down six fewer rebounds than its opponents. But through timely scoring and limited turnovers, the Green and White held on. Dartmouth turned the ball over just twice in the second quarter, with the Big Red capitalizing once for two points, in contrast to the first quarter, in which the Big Green turned the ball over six times to hand the home team 11 points. When the buzzer sounded ending the first half, the Big Green had a 32-30 lead.

The second half was close throughout, with neither team leading by more than five until there was just over a minute left in the game. Cornell took its first lead since the first quarter at the 7:17 mark. The Big Red and the Big Green traded a few baskets, though Cornell never led by more than four, before the Big Green pulled ahead to a 50-45 lead to close out the third. Early in the fourth, the Big Red clawed back to tie the game at 50 with 8:42 remaining, but a 3 from Quinones a minute later gave the Big Green a lead it would sustain for the rest of the game.

The Big Green’s captains, Cy Lippold ’19 and Isalys Quinones ’19, led the team with 21 and 19 points respectively — including hitting five 3-pointers each — and both played a full 40 minutes. Quinones’ presence was huge for the Big Green — she has struggled with foul trouble this season, and, according to head coach Belle Koclanes, limiting fouls was one of the keys that she told her team would make them successful this past weekend. Lippold and Quinones, along with the team objective of staying out of foul trouble, proved to be essential components to the Big Green’s win the next day as well.

“I think the full game, in everybody, there was a grit that we don’t let it go,” said Paula Lenart ’20. “Even if they went on a run, to immediately punch back. And I think that was in everybody who stepped on the court.”

Dartmouth took the grit that they showed in the second half against Cornell to the Big Apple to take on Columbia, who had upset Harvard University the previous night. The first half was the Columbia Show, with the Lions jumping out to a 9-0 start before Quinones scored on a layup more than halfway through the first quarter. The Big Green and the Lions played an even quarter after Quinones’ bucket, each scoring seven more points to put Dartmouth at a 9-16 deficit going into the second. The Big Green pulled within two points in the first two minutes of the second quarter to make it 16-1 before the Lions went on a 10-0 run. A triple from Quinones and a layup from Lippold to close out the half brought the Big Green within firing distance for the second half, and Dartmouth went to the locker room down 33-28.

The Big Green looked to continue its second quarter momentum into the third, and Lippold did just that with a 3 35 seconds into the half to bring Dartmouth within two. Then, however, Columbia started edging forward, leading by as many as 11 with 4:36 to go in the third. But back-to-back 3’s from Lippold and McKenna and a layup from Quinones brought the Big Green back within three. The Big Green and the Lions traded a few baskets, but a buzzer-beating layup from Paula Lenart ’20 tied the game at 51 heading into the final quarter.

To open the fourth quarter, the Lions fouled the Green and White five times before either team scored from the field. Quinones sunk three free throws down this stretch, giving the Big Green its first lead of the game. It would maintain this lead until Columbia tied the Green and White at 61 with just over three and a half minutes remaining. Shortly after, the Lions took their first lead of the quarter, 69-68, with 13 seconds remaining after the Big Green fouled on a 3 and the Lions sank consecutive free throws. But with just four seconds left, the Lions fouled Quinones, and she converted on both free throws to give the Big Green a 70-69 victory.

“We wanted to make a statement, to ourselves and to the league, that Dartmouth women’s basketball is still in the competition, is still fighting to get into the top four,” said Jimena Abejon ’22.

Quinones and Lippold led the Big Green again in front of Lippold’s home crowd, with 21 and 20 points respectively, and Lenart added a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds to round out the double-digit scorers. Throughout the game, the starting five along with Anna Luce ’21, Kealy Brown ’19 and Katie Douglas ’22 were the only players who saw minutes for the Big Green in a concentrated winning effort. The Big Green will look to use the momentum from its successful weekend when it takes on Ivy leader University of Pennsylvania and the defending champion in Princeton University in Leede Arena next weekend.

“It will definitely be an important weekend next weekend, and we definitely need one win,” Lenart said. “Then for sure it keeps us in [contention] for the tournament. In order for us not to depend on someone else’s upset or someone else’s bad luck, we need to win at least one.”