Big Green to face Ivy's best

by Morgan Cain | 2/7/02 6:00am

Cornell and Columbia roll into the Upper Valley this weekend standing as the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in Ivy League women's basketball, respectively. This is a different story than that of recent years past, when Harvard, Dartmouth and Penn sat atop the Ancient Eight and received automatic bids to the NCAA tournament.

This year, Harvard still stands in second place, but Penn and the Big Green (6-12, 2-3) are mired in the middle of the pack. This weekend, Dartmouth hopes to nab its first two home-court league victories, when they face the Big Red tomorrow and the Lions Saturday.

The story week in and week out is the same for the Big Green -- rebounding and shot percentage. When the Big Green rebound well, and Keri Downs '03 is hitting her jumpers and Kat Hanks '03 and Katie Skelly '03 are dumping in easy buckets, the Green have a great game. When those things don't happen, things get ugly.

Cornell is led by senior tri-captain Do Stevens, who was last week's Ivy League Player of the Week after the Big Red thumped both Princeton and Penn by an average margin of 20-plus points. Also chipping in nicely for Cornell is Karen Force, a sophomore guard who, at 5-8 and over 11 points per game, will definitely give Downs and her taller backcourt mate Courtney Lewis '04 a handful. These two teams match-up well because of similar styles and depth; however, the Big Red's guards are its strength, while Dartmouth needs to pound it down low. Whoever wins that battle will win the game.

Against Columbia, the Big Green should have an easier time dictating the flow of the game. Led by diaper dandy sensation Nicole Lesko, who has been named Ivy League Rookie of the Week twice, the Lions are the only Ivy team to knock off Cornell and did so in overtime, 69-67, in Ithaca.

The Lions and the Big Green have the same record against common opponents (3-2), but the Lions seem to play a lot better in the big games on the road. In order for Dartmouth to take this one, it will have to stop being what appears to be a team dominated by underclassmen, something Dartmouth knows all too much about.

This game will be a shoot-em-up game in which the team that makes the shots it is given will win. This may appear obvious, but don't look for too many gritty, gutsy, bangin' baskets. This is going to be a dogfight, and let's hope for our sake that the Lions don't know how to fight like dogs.