Women's basketball drops two over weekend but still alive in Ivy tournament hunt

by Lili Stern | 3/6/19 2:55am

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Isalys Quinones '19 scored 13 points in the Big Green's 56-52 loss to Penn on Saturday.

by Evan Morgan / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

With the clock ticking on the 2018-19 season and the field of teams competing for a bid to the Ivy League tournament narrowing, the Dartmouth women’s basketball team travelled to the Mid-Atlantic this past weekend to take on league leaders Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania. Though the Big Green came back to Hanover with two losses, their hopes for a tournament berth are still alive.

Dartmouth kicked off their away stand Friday night at Princeton, hoping to redeem themselves after a 82-75 loss to the Tigers at home two weeks ago. A sloppy first quarter, featuring two fouls and a turnover within the first minute of play, started the Big Green off on the wrong foot. But the visitors were able to clean up their play, and a solid defensive effort in the first allowed the Big Green to come away from the first quarter down by just six points, 19-13.

A layup and a 3-pointer from Annie McKenna ’20 to kick off the second quarter brought the Big Green within one before Princeton scored. A back-and-forth quarter from that point on kept both teams from leading by more than three before the half, but another two points from McKenna, along with four each from Isalys Quinones ’19 and Elle Louie ’21, gave the Big Green a 28-27 advantage at halftime.

After battling hard in the first half, the third quarter brought trouble for the Green and White. At the 7:23 mark, the game was tied at 32, but after that, the Big Green scored just four points the rest of the quarter. The Tigers went on a 10-0 run that was briefly broken up by a pair of layups from Louie before the home team finished off the quarter with another nine consecutive baskets. Altogether, Princeton outscored the Big Green 27-8 in the third, bringing the score to 54-36 entering the final period. The Big Green cleaned up their play in the fourth, scoring evenly with the Tigers, but the effort wasn’t enough and the Tigers won 64-47. Head coach Belle Koclanes was not pleased with the drop in play in the third quarter.

“It was really disappointing,” she said. “I was really disappointed in our effort. Our effort dropped, and our focus dropped. Our margin for error is so small, it just is.”

Despite the disappointing loss and a third quarter that Koclanes described as embarrassing, the Big Green progressed defensively since the last time they faced the Tigers. Two weeks ago, the Big Green allowed the Tigers 82 points on its home court, including 41 to 2018 Ivy League player of the year Bella Alarie. On Friday, the Big Green held Princeton to 18 fewer than that and allowed Alarie to score just 12 points, her second-fewest of the season.  

On Saturday, the Big Green travelled to Philadelphia to take on the league-leading Quakers. After taking a 4-2 lead early in the first, the Big Green relinquished nine straight points. But back-to-back triples from Kealy Brown ’19 and Katie Douglas ’22, coupled with a jumper from Quinones, put a one-point lead back in the Big Green’s hands with just under three minutes to play in the first. A Penn three and another jumper from Quinones before the clock expired left the game tied, 14-14, at the end of the quarter.

Both teams had a slow start to the second quarter, collectively missing on five attempts before Douglas sunk a three two and a half minutes into the quarter. After that, a Penn layup was the only successful attempt from the field until Douglas hit from three again at the 4:00 mark to give Dartmouth a 20-18 lead. The Quakers held the Big Green to four points in the final minutes of the half, and the Big Green left for the locker room down 26-24.

Early in the second half, forward Paula Lenart ’20 scored evenly with the Quakers, scoring six points on three layups to counter Penn’s six points in the first four and a half minutes of play. However, when Lenart recorded her third foul with just under four minutes remaining in the quarter, she was subbed out. After that, a 6-0 run gave the home team a nine-point advantage with time expiring. However, a three-point buzzer-beater from Anna Luce ’21, who had replaced Lenart, reduced the Big Green’s deficit, and Dartmouth headed to the fourth down 42-36.

Penn opened the fourth with a made free throw in the first 30 seconds of play, but back-to-back triples from Quinones and Luce brought the Big Green within one by the end of the second minute of the quarter. For most of the rest of the quarter, Green and White played the Quakers evenly, and were down just one with two minutes remaining, but a couple of missed defensive assignments resulted in a five-point final minute for the Quakers, which the Big Green was unable to match. The final score was 56-52 Quakers.

Though the Big Green ultimately did not come out on top, Quinones was still pleased with her team’s overall performance over the weekend.

 “I think we really came together as a team, and I think that showed versus Penn,” she said. “We really got in our minds that these two teams were beatable, and I think we showed that, especially during Penn.”

Next weekend, with this mentality, two wins and no small amount of luck, the Big Green could earn a spot in the Ivy League tournament. To take sole possession of the tournament’s fourth and final slot, the Big Green will have to sweep Columbia University and Cornell University at home, and count on Yale University losing to Penn and Princeton on their own home court. Koclanes is excited for the opportunity to compete next weekend and for the excitement and uncertainty that college basketball in March brings.

"This is what’s it’s all about," she said. "Who’s gonna bring it, who’s gonna step up, who’s gonna make plays. I’m excited that our team is in our position. March is championship month, and we are standing on the shoulders of a championship program, and we are doing our best to move the program forward and become champions again.”