Women's basketball sweeps road set
It was a winning weekend for Dartmouth’s women’s basketball program, as the team managed to come from behind in both match-ups to claim late-game victories. The Big Green traveled south to face Yale University and Brown University, improving their league record to 4-4 and overall record to 9-15.
On Friday night, Dartmouth defeated the Bulldogs 68-63 before overwhelming Brown 63-50 the following day. The pair of victories comes after tough losses to league leaders the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University. The weekend also marks the end of away play for the Big Green until March.
“These are huge road wins because we only have one more away weekend,” Kate Letkewicz ’18 said. “The wins will set us up for the next two home weekends.”
The Friday night tip-off at Yale saw the Bulldogs take the lead early and dominate the first half despite early threes by Letkewicz and Fanni Szabo ’17. The Big Green fielded some early opposition but stopped a Yale run in the first quarter and tied the game with over a minute left in the quarter. Yale quickly answered in the remaining time, hitting a buzzer beating three to lead the Big Green 21-15 heading into the second period.
In the second quarter, Dartmouth committed costly turnovers in the second quarter, on which Yale quickly capitalized. These mistakes were coupled with an explosive 14-0 run by the Bulldogs. The Big Green tried to stave off the damage with the help of a Szabo jump shot and three, but it wasn’t enough as Yale took a 13-point lead by the end of the half.
Despite a rough start to the game, Dartmouth redoubled its efforts in the second half. Letkewicz kicked off the start of half with a three-point play.
“At halftime we talked about taking care of the basketball and to keep the fight in you because there is 20 minutes left in this game,” head coach Belle Koclanes said. “You prepared all week to earn this victory, but you have to take care of the basketball to do that. We did a much better job in the second half doing that.”
By 2:41 left in the half, Dartmouth was on a 11-0 run, but still trailed Yale 47-40. The Big Green would not find themselves atop the scoreboard until the fourth quarter when senior Lakin Roland ’16 helped retake the lead after nailing a couple of shots and free throws, putting the Big Green up by one. Yale couldn’t regain the upper hand despite leading for the majority of the game and Dartmouth sealed the game with a few extra points to secure a five-point victory at New Haven.
“It’s a 40 minute game, sometimes 40 plus,” Koclanes said. “Lakin is our senior leader and [she] knows. She wasn’t happy with her first half performance, but she turned it on in the second half. She made plays where she needed to and that’s what you need your senior leaders to do.”
Roland led both sides in scoring with 24 points and secured five rebounds. Letkewicz contributed impressive stats as well with 18 points. Szabo, who returned last weekend from an injury, also contributed double figures with 10 points.
“We knew collectively [as a team] that that wasn’t our best start,” Roland said. “So we headed back out giving our best effort not thinking about the score. We all believed we could win the game,
regardless of the score at halftime. And [the win] showed that we’re here to play and we’re going to fight to the end.”
Dartmouth’s second half comeback would be mirrored the next night in Providence where the Big Green faced Brown. The game started similarly as the previous night with a Big Green three from Szabo before Brown gained control and went on a 13-0 run. Letkewicz stepped up with two threes, helping end the Big Green’s scoring drought. Still by the end of the first quarter Brown led 19-11.
Saturday night, the Big Green’s Achilles heel came in the form of multiple fouls. The team had 11 fouls with five minutes left in the first half, helping pave the way for big gains by the Bears at the free throw line. While both teams were around 30 percent in shooting from the field in the first half, Brown compensated with a perfect performance from the free throw line 15-15. By the end of the half, Brown led by 14.
True to this weekend’s comeback fashion, the Big Green came out strong in the second half, kicking off the half with an 8-0 run. By the end of the third quarter, Dartmouth was even able to take back the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter.
“I think that in the first half we worried more about the things we couldn’t control,” Letkewicz said. “But at halftime we decided to up our energy, our focus, and our defense.”
The tables were clearly turned in the second half, as Dartmouth went on a 16-point run, besting Brown by 13 points by the end of the game.
“Fanni Szabo sparked our runs,” Koclanes said. “[She] is a competitor and you see her getting better and better each night. The team is locked in right now, they scored 32 points in the second half and held them to 15. The defensive effort was the game changer for us tonight.”
Szabo finished the night with 15 points, the most since her return from injury. Roland, Letkewicz and Olivia Smith ’18 also finished in double digits. Roland finished with 13 points, all in the second half, and 10 rebounds, marking her eighth double-double of the season. Letkewicz led the team with 17 points and Smith scored 11 points, one of her best performances of the season.
“We really showed [this weekend] that we have what it takes to make a big comeback,” Letkewicz said. “We have so much more to give than we’re giving. We just need to focus on things little by little. [Next weekend] we need to stay consistent and focus on the first half. The last four games we didn’t come out with the best energy and focus, and we need to so we’re not digging ourselves in a hole.”
The Big Green will kick off a four game home series against Cornell University this Friday at 7 p.m. before taking on Columbia University on Saturday at 6 p.m.