Women's basketball wins to keep pace with Ivy leaders

by Kevin Liao | 2/11/08 1:31pm

After staging two brilliant come-from-behind wins a week ago, the Big Green returned to the court this weekend for two strong home wins over Brown, 61-49, and Yale, 73-63, concluding a five-game home stand.

On Friday, Dartmouth (8-12, 5-1 Ivy) cruised to an easy victory against Brown (1-19, 0-6 Ivy), led by Koren Schram '09 on both ends of the floor. Schram had a game-high 17 points, along with four three-point field goals and four steals. She was helped by Brittney Smith '11, who finished with an impressive third-straight double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Betsy Williams '10 also chipped in with 10 points. Every player on the Dartmouth side saw playing time in the effort.

The Bears were held to just 36.8 percent shooting on the night, in contrast to 43.1 percent for the Big Green.

Schram was pleased with the team's performance.

"We played just like any other day," Schram said. "We didn't do anything special except hit our shots and that gave our team a big boost."

Dartmouth started off strong offensively, with Schram hitting open three-pointers early to get the team's rhythm going. She was also a force on the defensive end, cutting off passing lanes to set up the team's transition game.

The game was close in the early goings, with the Big Green leading just 10-9 after the opening four minutes of play. Dartmouth then widened their lead with a 9-2 run to take a 19-11 lead, highlighted by another steal by Schram.

Brown answered, however, with a couple of quick buckets in the paint to close the gap to 22-19.

Dartmouth responded by picking up the pace and closed the half with a 12-3 run to seize a 34-24 halftime lead. Schram was again instrumental on both ends of the floor along with Smith, who grabbed nine rebounds in the opening half, including five on the offensive glass.

Dartmouth started the second half the same way it had the first, with Schram swishing another three-ball on the team's first possession. The Big Green's 10-2 run gave Dartmouth its largest lead of the night, 44-26. Brown sliced the lead to 51-40 with under eight minutes to play, but that was as close as the Bears would get.

On Saturday, Dartmouth was able to fight off a late rally by Yale (5-14, 3-3 Ivy) and come out with a win. The Big Green had a balanced offensive attack, with each starter racking up double digits in scoring. Smith was once again impressive on the boards with 10 rebounds. Schram kept up her shooting with a team-high 15 points. Co-captain Kristen Craft '08 added 14 points, hitting all eight of her free throws in the second half to hold off Yale's comeback. Williams and co-captain Sydney Scott '08 scored 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Scott pointed out the team's improved consistency on both ends of the court, as the Big Green outshot the Bulldogs 48.8 percent to 39.2 percent.

"Coach [Wielgus] says to us that during the game, we're either good at defending the paint or good at defending the three and neglecting one or the other," Scott said. "Tonight, we focused on doing well on both ends at the same time."

The Big Green started strong against Yale, as both co-captain Kristen Craft '08 and Schram hit threes and Williams had strong drives to the basket, giving the Big Green a 13-5 advantage in just over four minutes. But the team got sloppy for a while with a couple of quick turnovers and allowed Yale to close in to 15-13. Just as quickly, Dartmouth forced a few turnovers of its own to ignite its transition offense. Schram made another long range basket, and Scott and Williams pulled up for short open jumpers over scrambling defenders.

The team pushed the lead to 35-22 by halftime, utilizing more pull-up jumpers that the Bulldogs could not match.

In the second half, Dartmouth saw its biggest lead of the night, 52-30, almost 10 minutes into play. The game then started to slip away from the Big Green. Dartmouth got into foul trouble and, due to multiple free throw opportunities earned by Yale, the lead was down to single digits, 58-49, with just under five minutes remaining. Dartmouth had four turnovers during that period.

"We let Yale back in the game," Craft said. "In the first half, we were looking to score, but in the second half we weren't looking to score, so we had a few turnovers and gave Yale a chance."

Determined to stop Yale's comeback, the Big Green kept attacking the paint and earned some free throws as a reward.

"We knew we had to stay poised," Craft said. "We've been in that position before. Yale's a tough team, but we made our free throws when it counted."

"We're battle tested," Scott added. "We kept our composure even when they were going for chippy fouls."

Dartmouth kept pace with Harvard (12-8, 5-1 Ivy) and Cornell (13-6, 5-1 Ivy) atop the Ivy League standings this weekend. Since the start of round robin play in 1977, the Big Green has finished third or better 21 times.

This coming weekend, the Big Green begins a four-game road with a trip to Columbia (7-13, 4-2 Ivy) on Friday and Cornell (13-6, 5-1 Ivy) on Saturday.

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