Women's basketball drops opening game to Hartford
That the young Big Green squad lost 62-45 wasn't as surprising as the team turning the ball over 17 times and squandering 10 points on missed free throws in the game.
But head coach Chris Wielgus remains optimistic. After all, the season is still young.
"I honestly think our problem was twofold: turnovers and missed free throws. And those were things that we did to ourselves -- those are fixable," said Wielgus, who is responsible for 10 of Dartmouth's 15 Ivy League titles.
Unfortunately, those fixable, little mistakes ultimately cost Dartmouth the opportunity to advance in the preseason WNIT tournament.
The Big Green fell behind, and at the half Dartmouth trailed 22-30.
The women in green returned from the locker room on fire in the second period. Three free throws by Fatima Kamara '07 helped Dartmouth cut the Hawks lead down to three at the 16:42 mark, and the women in green managed to stay in the game for the first third of the second stanza.
However, turnovers on consecutive possessions allowed Hartford to extend the lead to eight. Four more Dartmouth turnovers in the next four minutes helped the Hawks gain a 15-point advantage. From there, the Big Green could never get themselves back into the game.
The Hawks will play Purdue in the second round on Sunday.
"First games are like pop quizzes, you figure out what you need to work on and you move on. This is a process, this is not something where you step on the court and abracadabra! -- everything goes your way. It takes young people time to learn and there is nothing you can simulate in practice that compares to coming into a place like this and playing a game. This was a wonderful experience and a great environment, and we are delighted to have been invited to the WNIT. We wish we had played better, but we will be fine. I have enormous faith in this team," Wielgus said.
Only seven members of the Dartmouth roster saw playing time against the Hawks. Only two players scored in double digits. Sydney Scott '08 led the way with 12 points while Kristen Craft '08 tossed in 10 points. Craft and Kamara also grabbed six rebounds each in the game.
The Big Green completed only one-third of its total field goal attempts and missed nearly half of its free throw attempts, a blow to the usually precise team.
The effects of losing three-point leaders Jeannie Cullen '06 and Angie Soriaga '06 showed. The Big Green didn't hit one of their eight tries from behind the arc.
Coach Wielgus remains unfazed.
"It's not worrisome to me, because I know we can shoot the three. My original game plan was not to shoot the three, but to get it inside to our post players. I changed that plan late in the game. Because they are a young team, it takes them a little bit longer to be adaptable, but they followed my game plan and got it inside to our posts and did what they were told to do. Koren Schram '09 has not played at all in the last two weeks and was just cleared to play yesterday so I sort of just threw her in there," said Wielgus in a post-game interview.
Dartmouth will be tested again, this time even more harshly, on Saturday when the women in green fly to Nashville, Tenn. to face No. 15 Vanderbilt.
The Commodores have been to the last seven NCAA tournaments and were the Southeastern Conference Tournament champions in 2004. Vanderbilt is led by seniors Dee David and Carla Thomas, who were named preseason All-Southeastern Conference selections.