Women’s basketball splits weekend, Szabo '17 hits 1,000 points

by Ashley DuPuis | 2/28/16 6:30pm

2-29-16-sports-womensbball-joborenge
The women's basketball team won against Brown University before losing a close game to Yale University.

The women’s basketball team wrapped up its last home games of the season this past weekend, splitting its games against Brown University and Yale University. The Big Green extended their win streak to five games after defeating Brown 60-56 Friday night. This victory marked the first time the team had a five-game win streak since February 2009. The following day the Big Green dropped a nail biter to Yale, 65-62. Despite the loss to Yale, the night was momentous for Dartmouth with junior Fanni Szabo ’17 scoring her 1,000th point. Daisy Jordan ’16 and Lakin Roland ’16 earned recognition for senior night. The weekend’s performance leaves the Big Green at 12-16 overall and 7-5 in the Ivy League.

Dartmouth kicked off the weekend strong, once again dominating play for the first half against the Bears. Both Roland and Kate Letkewicz ’18 knocked down threes early on, helping the Big Green take a quick lead. As the second half dwindled, Brown couldn’t find an answer for Dartmouth’s dogged offensive performance. The Big Green led at the half 34-21 despite the referees discounting a shot at the buzzer by Amber Mixon ’18.

Roland kicked off the second half with a three. Unlike the last half, the Bears began to claw their way back. After going on an 10-1 run in the third quarter, Brown closed Dartmouth’s lead to 42-34.

Brown continued a strong offensive assault, causing the Big Green lead to dwindle into the final quarter. With only 3:00 remaining Brown closed Dartmouth’s lead to a mere one point.

“It was a tough game to play,” Szabo said. “We started really well and then I think we got a bit slowed by their press defense and our offense wasn’t flowing but then by the end of the game we were more confident then Brown and I think that’s why we could get the victory.”

Jordan came through for the Big Green scoring two crucial free throws, giving Dartmouth a 57-54 lead. With 23 seconds remaining, Mixon helped the Big Green solidify the victory with two free throws of her own, giving the team a five-point lead that they would retain at the final buzzer, beating Brown 60-56.

The victory clearly reflected Dartmouth’s team play in the stats, with four players finishing the night in double figures. Roland led the Big Green with 17 points and nine boards, while Letkewicz earned her fifth double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Szabo put up 11 points, and Mixon continued her strong play from last weekend with a season high 13 points.

“I’m proud of Amber and she’s just getting started,” head coach Belle Koclanes said. “Her game tonight was excellent, defensively she just brings another level and dynamic to our team with her pressure and what she does. She had great steals and great awareness picking inbound passes off.”

Excitement was in the air during Saturday night’s match-up against Yale. Dartmouth seniors Jordan and Roland were honored for four years of play and commitment to the program, and Szabo was only four points away from reaching her 1,000th career point at the beginning of the night.

Senior night always proves bittersweet, and with the lost of two exceptional players, Saturday night proved no different.

“The people on the team are my family — players, coaches, everyone,” Lakin said. “They’ve provided me with the opportunity to grow as a basketball player and a person, to participate in a tradition. I’m very grateful.”

Roland leaves behind her own impressive lists of accomplishments. However, the legacy she wishes to leave behind goes beyond stats and honors.

“I want to leave the team with confidence and support, and pave the way for Dartmouth basketball,” Roland said. “[The team has] given me a lot, so I hope I can help inspire them.”

Szabo cemented her own legacy early Saturday night. Szabo wasted no time working towards her 1,000th career point, kicking off the game with a jumper, and quickly posting another two points to reach the milestone.

“I didn’t really pay attention to it — I just played,” Szabo said. “I knew that if I thought about it, it would put pressure on me, and I didn’t want to force my shots, so I just tried to stay relaxed and see what would happen in the game.”

The season has been one of ups and downs for Szabo, who returned from an injury in December. She is only the 18th player to reach this career milestone in the program, and she attributes her success to the unwavering support of the team.

“It’s awesome and you saw it on her face when she hit it that she was more relieved than anything else,” Koclanes said. “There are not too many people that get to score 1,000 points, but for those of us who have in our career know when you get close to it, it’s more nerve racking than anything else. You just want to surpass it so you can relax and play, so I’m grateful she got it early. I’m proud of her, she’s going to score a lot more.”

Despite an early lead by Dartmouth on Saturday night, Yale tied the game up 12-12 by the end of the first quarter, before launching a quick offensive run in the second. Szabo nailed one free throw to end a 7-0 Yale run. Throughout the rest of the half, however, the Big Green couldn’t regain its footing, ending the half down 21-33, after a buzzer-beating 3-point shot from Yale.

During the two teams’ last meeting this season, Dartmouth managed to pull off a comeback from a double-digit halftime deficit. Returning to the court for the start of the third quarter, the Big Green looked poised to do the same once again, unleashing a 7-0 run on the Bulldogs, and cutting the lead to five points. Still Yale rallied, answering with a 12-0 run before a Letkewicz three wrapped up the quarter 48-33.

Letkewicz paved the way for a possible late game comeback with a career-high 27 points, including three free throws after a foul by Yale and a technical foul assessed to the Yale coach with 6:40 remaining. Down by four with seven seconds to go, Letkewicz knocked down a crucial 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one. However, it was not enough to overcome Yale’s stalwart defense as two final free throws sealed the game for the Bulldogs.

“Kate gets better and better every single day,” Koclanes said. “Kate has been hungry since we met her and she continues to make statements. She is so serious about competing and raising her level.”

Dartmouth looks to finish the season strong next week against the top two basketball teams in the league. The Big Green will take to the road to face No. 2 University of Pennsylvania on Friday and No. 1 Princeton University on Saturday.