Big Green beats Colgate for first win of season

by Abby Cohen | 11/20/11 11:00pm

The Dartmouth women's basketball team earned its first win of the season on Saturday night, defeating Colgate University, 56-50, at the TD Bank Classic hosted by the University of Vermont. Breaking a seven-game losing streak dating back to last season, the Big Green (1-2) maintained control of the lead for all 40 minutes of the game.

The win came on the heels of a Big Green loss at the Classic on Friday night, when Dartmouth fell to St. Joseph's University, 85-48, in its first tournament game.

The Big Green led by 16 points against Colgate (0-4) at halftime, and expanded its lead to 24 early in the second half. The Raiders went on a 29-11 run in the last 10 minutes of play, however, cutting Dartmouth's lead to three with just over a minute remaining. Dartmouth held off Colgate's efforts with solid free throw shooting down the stretch, securing the win in an exciting Saturday night contest.

"It feels really great," captain Faziah Steen '13 said. "Now the younger players know what it's like to get that first college win, and we have a better idea of what we have to do to be successful. We now can get a sense of where we are going next."

After losing Friday, Dartmouth hoped to limit its turnovers and sharpen its offense against Colgate.

"We were determined not to lose again, so we were motivated and came out with a lot of energy," Nicola Zimmer '14 said. "We came out ready to attack them instead of sitting back."

The Colgate game remained scoreless until Steen drained a shot from behind the arc at 17:31 to put the Big Green ahead 3-0. Keeping control of the scoreboard for the rest of the game, Dartmouth consistently limited Colgate to short offensive possessions, and steadily increased its lead over the first half.

"Everyone was really aggressive," Steen said. "We were running the floor a lot better and got some fast breaks early in the game that allowed us to take an early lead."

Dartmouth looked to push the pace of the game after halftime.

"Our strong defense and rebounding allowed us to play faster, which we like to do," Zimmer said.

Steen said the Big Green was a different team on Saturday than it had been in its first two games of the season.

"We did a better job on the offensive end of executing sets," she said. "Everyone was looking to score, looking to put the ball in the basket."

Even after Dartmouth extended its lead to over 20 points midway through the second half, the Raiders continued fighting, and steadily chipped away Dartmouth's lead to get themselves back in the game. The Big Green offense went cold, and with just under two minutes remaining, Colgate trailed by only five points.

After Colgate pulled to within three, Dartmouth hit two clutch free throws, extending its lead to five points. The game remained a two-possession contest until time expired.

"Even making mistakes down the run, we were still able to close it out," Steen said. "I was impressed with how poised the freshmen, and everyone, were."

While the Big Green struggled again with turnovers, the team made great strides with its rebounding efforts.

"We have been getting out-rebounded by every team," Steen said. "But [Saturday] night against Colgate, our rebounding ratio was higher, showing a huge improvement from previous games."

Dartmouth out-rebounded Colgate 46 to 40, with Milica Toskovic '15 pulling in a team-leading nine rebounds.

Steen was the Big Green's prominent scorer, with 19 points on five-for-13 shooting. Dartmouth also benefited from 21 points off the bench. Kamala Thompson '15 scored 10 points on five-for-nine shooting, while Nicole Beresford '15 also provided an offensive spark, racking up six first-half points.

"Seeing us be successful just builds confidence," Zimmer said. "It's going to take some work to get to where we need to be, but we just keep improving."

With a 40 percent field goal percentage and only four offensive rebounds against St. Joseph's (2-2) on Friday, the Big Green struggled to put points on the board and fell behind early in the game.

The Big Green trailed by 23 points at halftime. Dartmouth began the second half on a 4-0 run, but failed to execute its offense for much of the game. Although Toskovic and Steen registered double-digit scoring, St. Joesph's took the game as the Big Green struggled with turnovers and rebounding.

The Big Green next plays at UVM (4-0) on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

"Now that we have a win, it's like breaking the ice," Steen said. "Everyone knows we can do it, and we can come in on Tuesday with more confidence."