Women's basketball sings down south, splits on the court

by Rohit Chandra | 11/26/97 6:00am

The women's basketball team kicked off their '97-98 campaign in Southern style, playing in the Ivy-Southern Challenge in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Saturday and Sunday. The team won big Saturday over Appalachian State, 85-60, behind strong play from Jackie Lippe '01, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds, before losing a battle to UT-Chattanooga, 58-50, on the second day.

By all indications, the women prepared well for the games, visiting Rock Mountain and Civil War battlefields in Chattanooga, and eating grits for breakfast. All good ways to instill toughness while absorbing a bit of the Southern experience. They also went on the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

"It was a highlight of my trip," Nicci Rinaldi '99 said. "I had been torturing everyone in our travel party by trying to sing the Chattanooga Choo Choo song."

But when the challenge began, the women were all business. Against Appalachian State, the women rebounded from a 44-39 halftime deficit by going on a 20-4 run keyed by their defense.

"Once we started playing solid, aggressive defense, our offense was triggered and it became much more aggressive," Courtney Banghart '00 said.

Rinaldi scored eight straight points on lay-ups to start the half and give Dartmouth a 47-44 lead. Two free throws by captain Bess Tortolani '98 put the Big Green up 67-48 with under 10 minutes to go and the lead was never threatened after that.

Tortolani scored 10 to go with five rebounds while Gyvonne Pinkston '99 added 11 points and four rebounds. Each contributed to the Big Green's potent inside game, which netted 54 points.

Hot shooting also characterized the game, as Lippe scored her 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting, while Rinaldi hit nine of her 12 shots to help the Big Green cause.

Sunday against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, whose basketball program is known best for the hot streak the men's team had in the NCAA tournament last year, Dartmouth lost a close one, 58-50.

"We played a good all around game against UTC," Banghart said. "We ended up beating ourselves. We missed some key lay-ups and foul shots throughout the game. We only shot 25% from the field in the second half."

"We just had a tough shooting night, both from the floor and from the line," Rinaldi added.

The margin of victory came in the first half, when the Lady Mocs took a 38-30 lead into the locker room. Dartmouth cut it to four twice in the second half, first on a 4-0 run to start the half and also in the middle of the half, when three points by Erin Rewalt '99 and a three-pointer by Banghart cut a ten-point deficit to four. The deficit remained four till a minute remained in the game. Leading 54-50, UTC scored four points to close out the game.

Banghart scored 12 points and notched seven steals to lead the Big Green. Lippe, a teammate of Banghart's in high school, contributed eight points and eight boards, while Rinaldi added 10 for the Big Green.

Overall, the team felt the weekend was a success.

"We stuck together as a team, we won as a team, we lost as a team", Tortolani said. "The freshmen stepped up and played a vital role in our win. Everyone got a chance to play this weekend which is always a great thing. I think this weekend set the standards for the season."

"It was a good trip," Banghart added. "We played against some good competition, and were able to show ourselves just how good of a team we are and can be this year."

Lippe, a freshman, came in and did a good job on the boards while adding some scoring punch to the Big Green's offensive attack.

"I went in hoping to catch a few minutes and in those minutes contribute to the teams success," Lippe said.

The Big Green, now back in the North, have their home opener tonight against Siena. The ball tips off in Leede Arena at 7 p.m.