Lady Hoopsters Eagerly Eyeing League Opener

by Morgan Cain | 1/4/02 6:00am

It's that time again. Time to put up or shut up.

The Dartmouth women's basketball team (4-6) may not be facing its toughest challenge of the year to date, but it is staring down its most important one when the Big Green tangles with Harvard tomorrow in Cambridge.

As important as every game of the season is -- and every game is certainly important -- it is the league play that makes college basketball, especially at Dartmouth, tick.

This Saturday's showdown is the Ivy League opener for the Big Green, and the importance of this game in setting a tone for the upcoming season-within-a-season that is Ivy League play is not lost on the women.

According to co-captain Keri Downs '03, "This weekend is a big one for us and a win would bring us a lot of confidence.

"Winning the first Ivy game will start us out on the right foot, but one game never decides a season."

This is also a Dartmouth team that doesn't want to lose its fifth straight game right as the league race is just starting, especially with strong Penn and Princeton squads on the horizon.

While the Big Green team is a young one, those underclassmen are paced by two potent scorers in Downs and fellow co-captain Kat Hanks '03.

Downs averages 17.7 points per game and Hanks, after being named to the All-Tournament Team at the Blue Sky Restaurant Classic held in December in Hanover, averages 22.1 points per game and almost 10 rebounds.

But the team's strength lies in its speed, which the women know will be a large part of Saturday's encounter.

"We plan on taking it to them from the beginning and playing our running game to attack the hoop before they get a chance to set up their defense," Downs said. "We're better when we run and when we're on the move," she continued.

"So pushing the ball up the court is definitely in the gameplan for this weekend."

Harvard is led by Hona Peljto, who averages 20.6 points per game.

The Crimson is 8-4, having won five games out of its last six contests, and is 4-1 at home record, something that doesn't bode well for the Big Green.

If the Big Green wants to win this game, it will have to limit Peljto to bad shots and no easy buckets.

Dartmouth will have its hands full when this bitter rivalry renews in Cambridge tomorrow night, but if Downs, Hanks, and Co. can hold Harvard to a cold-shooting night, they could steal a win from the hated Crimson in its own backyard.