Women's basketball breaks losing streak with Brown win

by Taylor Malmsheimer | 2/19/12 11:00pm

The Big Green women's basketball team spilt its games this weekend, losing to Yale University on Friday but defeating Brown University on Saturday.
by Yomalis Rosario / The Dartmouth

Dartmouth began the weekend on the road against the Yale Bulldogs (15-9, 7-3 Ivy League). The Big Green outscored the Bulldogs during the second half of the game but could not overcome a 22-point first-half hole.

Dartmouth started off the game playing tough defense and working hard on the boards, led by inside players Arianne Hunter '14 and Sasha Dosenko '12. After the first four minutes of play, Yale held an 8-6 lead, and it looked as though it would be a back-and-forth game with many lead changes.

Yale, however, went on a 17-0 run in the middle of the first half to push the lead out and held a 34-12 lead with 3:23 left in the first half. The Bulldogs forced many Dartmouth turnovers and began to play a fast-paced, transition style game to force the run.

"We didn't play good transition basketball," captain Faziah Steen '13 said. "We got into a running game with them and didn't convert on layups. I think we missed like 26 points in the paint."

Head coach Chris Wielgus also pointed to the Big Green's inability to make key shots as a factor in the loss to Yale.

"We had great shots, and we just didn't make our shots," she said. "They went on a run, and we just ran out of time down the stretch. We weren't able to convert, but we did convert on many more [shots] than we normally do."

Dartmouth scored more than Yale in the second half but ran out of time to make a complete comeback.

Yale triumphed by a final score of 66-48. Steen led the Big Green with 18 points, and Milica Toskovic '15 recorded her first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Toskovic led Dartmouth on the boards in a rough rebounding night for the Big Green. It was Steen's 15th consecutive game in double figures.

On Saturday night, Dartmouth faced the Brown Bears, who are currently in fourth place in the Ivy League. In a game that featured eight ties and 10 lead changes, the Big Green women prevailed to secure a much-needed victory, 57-52.

The Big Green began the game with energy and a strong defensive presence, which paved the way for its offensive success. Center Tia Dawson '15 scored five unanswered points and Dartmouth took a 16-10 lead the largest of the game with 10:30 left in the first half. Not to be outdone, the Bears clawed their way back into the game and never let Dartmouth pull away. In the first half, the Big Green took advantage of its superiority on the boards and scored 10 points inside, seven of which were second-chance points. In the last few seconds of the half, Toskovic blocked a pass and lofted the ball up to Dosenko, who hit a shot under the basket and put the Big Green up 26-22.

Ahead by only four points at halftime, Dartmouth focused on maintaining their energy and playing well in the second half. The team has a history of playing strong basketball for only one half of games.

"We basically just emphasized that we just had to keep the effort up," Steen said. "Lots of times we've come out with no energy and gotten ourselves in a hole. Then we run out of time to get out of the hole. We wanted to come out and win the first four minutes of the half and not let [Brown] get momentum that way."

Brown began the second half with seven straight points to take a 29-26 lead before Dartmouth regained their momentum with a jumper by Dawson and two free throws by Dosenko. The score continued to see-saw back and forth until the final minute of the game. With the score tied 52-52 and Brown's defense scrambling, Steen hit a go-ahead three pointer with 48 seconds left in the game.

"I got a little space and just took a shot," Steen said. "I didn't really think about how much time was left. I had missed some free throws earlier, and I definitely wanted to make sure I made up for it somehow so I just took the shot."

The Big Green then converted on its free throws as time winded down to secure its second Ivy League win of the season.

Steen cited consistent play as the main reason for the Big Green's win against Brown and not against Yale.

"The main thing is that we played two halves of basketball," she said. "We sustained the game for both halves and played well as a team for both halves. It's just about making smart decisions and just being able to play together for two halves. We've been struggling with this all year and it feels good that we were finally able to put two halves of basketball together and get the win."

Due to injuries and illness, the Big Green played with only seven players available this weekend. This created some difficulties with fatigue and depth, but the team pulled together and pushed through the adversity.

"[The win] is great as far as morale," said Steen. "When you go into practice and work hard, you want to be rewarded by getting the win. You put in the effort and sometimes it doesn't fall into place. It's just nice to be able to get rewarded with a win when you do put in so much effort and energy. It feels good knowing we were disadvantaged and were still able to play well together."

Wielgus said that the team is young but continues to show perseverance, even when it is losing. The young players are getting "better and better," she said.

"My kids have never given up," Wielgus said. "If you asked me what game I'm most proud of, I would say [Friday] night. The kids fought back even with very little time left, and I'm really proud of the fact that they never gave up. As long as they have effort and perseverance, they will continue to win."

Steen is now 45 points away from becoming Dartmouth's 16th 1,000-point scorer. Next weekend, Dartmouth travels to face the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University.