Women's basketball splits weekend of overtime thrillers

by Ashley DuPuis | 2/1/16 6:30pm

The women's basketball team took both games into overtime this past weekend.

The women’s basketball team battled it out this weekend on the road, reaching overtime in both of its road games. The team split the weekend, beating Columbia University (11-8, 0-4 Ivy) 76-73 on Friday before dropping a tight game against Cornell University (11-7, 3-1 Ivy) 71-58 the next day. This weekend’s games leave the Big Green with an overall record of 7-13 and an Ivy League record of 2-2.

“I’m really pleased with the way this basketball team is playing,” head coach Belle Koclanes said. “They’re getting better, playing better and competing at a higher level these last three weeks. For our opening Ivy League weekend, I’m proud of the effort and we’re going to take the lessons learned and we’re going to get better next week.”

The match against the Lions saw a back and forth momentum between the two schools, resulting in close game. Strong, consistent scoring in the first quarter led by Daisy Jordan ’16 put the Big Green in the lead heading into the half 33-28.

The second half, with 11 lead changes, proved to be an even tighter contest. By the end of the third quarter, the Lions pulled within one point of the Big Green to leave the quarter at 52-51.

The game reached its pinnacle in the fourth. Kate Letkewicz ’18 kicked off the quarter with a long three. The Lions answered quickly, however, keeping all Dartmouth leads in the single digits. With 4:38 left to play, Dartmouth led by one point until 2:53 left in the quarter when Columbia tied the score. Columbia retook the lead and as the seconds ticked down, it looked as if the Lions would pull out a victory until Letkewicz scored two crucial free throws to tie the game with 34.4 seconds remaining. These late game points pushed the two teams into Dartmouth’s first overtime game of the year.

Lakin Roland ’16 knocked down a three for the first points in overtime for either team, giving the Big Green a lead that would last for the remainder of the game.

“It’s a grind every Ivy League game,” Koclanes said. “That’s why I love the Ivy League because every game is going to be that way.”

For the second game in a row, Letkewicz led the Dartmouth offense in points, putting up 23 and adding eight boards. Roland scored 19 points and 11 rebounds, giving her the only double double of the game from both sides. Jordan had her highest scoring output of the season, with 16 points and 4 rebounds.

The Big Green wrapped up their Empire State trip on Saturday against the Big Red, which was also coming off an overtime game the night before — a loss to Harvard University. Roland kicked off the game with a three, starting a lead that the Big Green would hold through the first quarter up 11-8. Cornell took its first lead of the game with a little over two minutes left in the second quarter. The Big Green offense, however, struck back quickly taking the lead at 24-23 by halftime.

“This is a hard place to play,” Koclanes said. “Cornell is always a solid hard working team, particularly at home on their floor.”

The second half closely mimicked the back and forth flow Dartmouth experienced against its other New York rivals. The Big Green looked to be gaining momentum and control during the early minutes of the fourth quarter, going on a 6-0 run until the Big Red capitalized on its next few possessions tying the game at 51 with 4:03 remaining. After Cornell pulled away, Roland once again came through with a three late in the fourth to bring the game to the tie that would send them to overtime.

“It’s not necessarily a single thought I had about scoring [to bring the game to overtime],” Roland said. “It’s more of a mindset of just responding as soon as you get possession of the ball.”

Despite pushing the game into overtime, Dartmouth could not capitalize on earlier momentum, allowing the Big Red to pull away, resulting in a 71-58 loss.

“It’s the best we’ve competed in Ithaca and I’m proud about that,” Koclanes said. “We had an opportunity to win the game at the buzzer, but we didn’t make a play and then the last five minutes in overtime went to Cornell. For two teams to go into OT two nights in a row, that’s awesome Ivy League basketball.”

Roland posted 19 points and 16 rebounds, earning her fourth straight double-double. Letkewicz also reached double figures with 12 points.

“I know during the Cornell game, we were really fighting through our fatigue because we had gone to overtime the night before also,” Letkewicz said. “That will be our key take-away, maintaining energy and lasting through fatigue.”

The team’s message moving forward is one of positivity, influenced strongly by Koclanes.

“The team is growing more and more each day,” Koclanes said. “The more times we compete with the back and forth competition, the more mature we become.”

The Big Green will continue with league play at home next week, taking on Princeton University Friday at 7 p.m. and the University of Pennsylvania Saturday at 6 p.m.

“Play hard,” Roland said of the goal for the coming games. “Just play hard and win.”