Ivy Invasion of Leede Imminent
The Dartmouth women's basketball team (6-14, 2-5 Ivy) stays home this weekend to tackle the Princeton Tigers and Penn Quakers in two battles that, if won by Dartmouth,could catapult the Big Green into a tie for third place. The team is now only looking up at the rest of the pack in a tie for sixth with its Friday night opponent, Princeton.
The Princeton Tigers have lost six in a row, and their last W came against league-leading Harvard on Jan. 5. Led by two youngsters of late, sophomore Kelly Schaffer and freshman Karen Bolster, Princeton has been looking to find its stroke ever since Dartmouth defeated them at the Jadwin Gym on Jan. 12. Here is a team that allowed Dartmouth to have what was its arguably best 20 minutes of the season last time they played; a 60-percent shooting, 17-7 rebounding-edge first half that allowed Dartmouth to come away with a 65-58 victory.
This time through, however, we see a bit of a role reversal. Dartmouth had gone to New Jersey on a six-game skid, and the Tigers had just won four out of their last six. Fueled by desperation and a burning desire to end the losing streak, Dartmouth out-hustled, out-shot and out-rebounded the Tigers. The Dartmouth women have to be prepared for the same type of desperation and angst, only this time it will be coming at them instead of from them.
Against Princeton, Dartmouth must handle a team filled with the desire to break their current cycle on Friday, but, on Saturday, Dartmouth faces a team on a semi-roll: the Pennsylvania Quakers. Penn, currently in third place in the Ivy League, boasts the Ivy League Rookie of the Week in Katie Kilker, a center who single-handedly pulled out a victory for the Quakers against Yale this past weekend to help vault them into third place. Sophomore Jewel Clark, the player who buried Dartmouth the last time these two teams met (a 76-64 Penn victory), is also on a roll of late, averaging 22 points in her last two games.
The ladies of Dartmouth shot themselves in the foot the last time they played Penn, and it was about the only target they could hit. They missed their first 10 shots and never could recover. Should Dartmouth desire to pull out this game Saturday, it will have to take better shots, and have them fall. Keri Downs '03 is the Ivy League's leading three-point shooter at about 45 percent.
Dartmouth knows it can beat these two teams, especially Princeton, which has already felt the wrath of a "good day" for the Big Green. Penn experienced a good half from Dartmouth in the second half of the last meeting, when the Big Green held them to 24 percent shooting on six field goals. If Dartmouth can once again put the two components together, good shooting and tough defense, it has the talent to win. But, should the girls in green fall victim to an early dry spell, or an overly-aggressive opponent, the fans at Leede Arena could be in for a long night.