Women’s basketball slips to 1-3 record in Ivy League play

by Lili Stern | 2/4/19 2:30am

Despite tallying its first win of Ivy play at Brown University this weekend, the Dartmouth women’s basketball team slipped into a tie for last place in the Ivy League with a loss in New Haven against Yale University this weekend. Consecutive losses against Harvard University in its first two games of conference play gave the Big Green an 0-2 record heading into its first back-to-back weekend. After a confidence boosting win in Providence, a slow start on Yale home court dug Dartmouth into a hole that it couldn’t climb out of. Coming out of the weekend, the Big Green holds a 1-3 record in Ivy play.

The Big Green struggled most against Harvard with rebounding. Head coach Belle Koclanes and her team knew as they prepared for this past weekend, and Yale especially, that rebounding would be key. Sure enough, in Dartmouth’s win against Brown, they pulled in more rebounds than the Bears, and against a bigger Yale team, the Big Green lost the battle of the boards 52-34.

“As always, Yale is a very, very physical team, Koclanes said. “They’re big, they’re strong, they’re work horses. We knew that. We had a great game plan in place, but we knew that they outmatch us physically speaking. And so we have to find a different way to win, knowing we’re going to lose that physicality battle.”

The game plan included using speed, smarts and Dartmouth’s strong shooting ability to draw Yale’s bigger players out of the lane to make room for the post players to go to work, and for the guards to drive. However, the Big Green was unable to execute on the boards in the first quarter, earning it a deficit from which Koclanes’ game plan could not recover.

Key players getting into foul trouble early has been another element of the Big Green’s struggles this year. Against Yale, starting forwards Isalys Quinones ’19 and Paula Lenart ’20 both had to sit out early in the game due to foul trouble, hampering the Big Green’s efforts against an already bigger team in the Bulldogs. However, Quinones thinks this problem can be fixed with how the Big Green sets the tone for the game.

“If we set our own tone at the very beginning of the game instead of having to fight back, then it shows the refs that this is how we play,” Quinones said. “We’re aggressive from the jump, and that’s just our basketball. We’re not fouling.”

The Big Green have lost the first quarter in three of their first four games of Ivy play, save only Harvard, and have had trouble recovering. Quinones thinks that striking first, in terms of pace, tone and scoring, will be key moving forward.

“I think Yale taught us a lot about being aggressive, and throwing the first punch,” Quinones said. “And if we don’t throw the first punch, then punching back, and not getting dug deep into a hole like we did in the first quarter.”

According to Koclanes, the Big Green’s ability to stay the course against Brown and keep focus was a big component to its victory and something that the Big Green hopes to carry forward into the remainder of the season.

“I was really pleased with our effort and our execution of our game plan,” she said. “We were really focused from tip to buzzer.”

Next week, the Big Green will look to even its record on the road against Cornell University and Columbia University. Neither team is easy to beat, but the stakes are higher for Dartmouth’s squad at Cornell. Koclanes has yet to win a game in Ithaca in her six-year tenure, and after a heartbreaking 51-49 loss on a buzzer beater in the Big Green’s final game of last season, she and her team are ready for a different ending.

“I know our returners are excited to get back up there and change that storyline,” she said.