Women's basketball surpasses last season's win total

by Justin Kramer | 1/8/18 2:15am

by Paula Kutschera / The Dartmouth

Women’s basketball hung on for a 63-56 victory over Harvard University on Saturday, starting off conference play on the right foot and bringing its overall record to 9-5. The win over the Crimson brought the women one over their total wins from the previous season.

“What you’re seeing from this team is all five players who are on the floor, all 13 players who are on the roster are threats,” fifth- year head coach Belle Koclanes said. “They are working on their skills every single day so that you can see team basketball. You see extra passes, you see everyone touch the ball, you see everyone making decisions. That’s the kind of basketball [Dartmouth] plays.”

Many players, such as Paula Lenart ’20 and Olivia Smith ’18, have taken a big step forward this year, but none has taken as big a step forward as point guard Cy Lippold ’19, who has filled the void left by Amber Mixon ’18.

“The reason we recruited [Lippold] is because she’s an offensive scoring threat, and it’s really important to have a point guard who can score the ball because it helps them create better [chances],” Koclanes said. “That point guard position is critical. The ball is in her hands most of the time, making decisions.”

Lippold has broken out this year, leading the team with 14.1 points and 4.9 assists per game, while shooting an impressive .416 overall and .426 from behind the arc.

“It’s been awesome, I’m enjoying it a lot,” Lippold said. “My teammates are really building the most confidence in me. I’m just trying to still work on myself and build the team more at the same time.”

Forward Isalys “Ice” Quiñones ’19 has also played a large individual role in the Big Green’s early success as the third leading rebounder and scorer. She has focused on the team’s overall attitude as well as her own.

“All the way down, 13 players, everyone wants to be here, everyone wants to contribute in whatever way they can,” Quiñones said. “Everyone is trying to get better, we’re all getting in the gym. For me it’s been a lot mental stuff. Just staying positive and pushing through when I’m tired or mad at myself.”

Dartmouth’s deep roster includes senior starters Kate Letkewicz ’18, co-captain Andi Norman ’18 and co-captain Emily Slagle ’18.

Letkewicz, an All-Ivy Honorable Mention last year, has continued to help carry the team, leading the pack with 6.3 rebounds per game and scoring an average of 12.3 points per game. She starred alongside Lippold in wins against Boston College and the University of Colorado, Dartmouth women’s basketball’s first wins against the Atlantic Coast Conference and Pac-12, respectively, in program history.

“We just came out and really executed our game plan,” Letkewicz said. “Everyone was contributing both offensively and defensively, putting the ball in the basket and getting stops. Overall, it was a huge team effort.”

Dartmouth also defeated local rivals the University of Vermont and the University of New Hampshire for the first time in four and seven years, respectively.

As a senior, the wins over Vermont and UNH were especially meaningful for Letkewicz.

“Those were two huge wins for us, Letkewicz said. “First time that our senior class had beaten them in our four years. Especially [against] UNH we’re playing for the state championship. It was a full on battle until the end.”

Heading into conference play, the Big Green will utilize the lessons it has learned thus far.

“We pull out lessons from every game,” Koclanes said. “Whether we win the game or lose the game, the ‘L’ stands for ‘lesson’ not ‘loss.’ We learned about pressure and physicality — those are major points of emphasis as we move into Ivy League play.”

After one of its strongest non-conference campaigns in recent memory, the Big Green want to carry its momentum into heart of their season.

“Coming out of the non-conference games after beating both [Boston College and Colorado] really got us going and made us see our potential as a team,” Lippold said. “If we know we can play like that, we can do the same and translate it to conference play.”

Letkewicz maintains high hopes for the rest of the reason as Dartmouth searches for its 18th Ivy League Championship.

“We have the same ‘Mind On 18’,” she said. “That starts with putting day to day work in and focusing on every weekend as it comes.”

Dartmouth’s next game is at Harvard on Jan. 20, after which the women will be home for a two-weekend, four-game stand against Ivy League rivals Brown University, Yale University, Cornell University and Columbia University. The Big Green is 6-1 at home so far this season. The team is counting on large crowd turnouts.

According to Koclanes, the women’s games drew a large crowd to Leede Arena.

“We’re trying to get more people in the arena to support our program,” Koclanes said. “You have got to create a home court.”