Women's basketball beaten badly on boards in loss to Harvard

by Lili Stern | 1/28/19 2:20am

1-28-19-basketball-evanmorgan-3

Cy Lippold ’19 scored a career-high 26 points against Harvard on Jan. 26.

by Evan Morgan / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Dartmouth women’s basketball took on the Harvard University Crimson each of the past two weekends to kick off Ivy play. The Big Green went 0-2 in the matchups, first losing 56-46 in Cambridge, then 73-57 in Hanover. 

In Cambridge, the Big Green’s shots weren’t finding the bottom of the net at the beginning of the game. None of Dartmouth’s 19 first quarter shots fell, giving the Crimson a 14-0 lead to start the game. The second quarter was slow as well, and the Big Green headed to the locker room at the half facing a 27-7 deficit. 

Dartmouth returned to the court with a vengeance, and had a 27-point third quarter, led by guard Annie McKenna ’20. Harvard had a 39-34 lead entering the final quarter after the Big Green’s monstrous third, but the Big Green could not come back to seal the game.

Despite its eventual loss, the Big Green gained momentum in the second half, and that was something that head coach Belle Koclanes wanted to carry into the following week against the same Harvard team.

“Our mentality was we want to pick up where we left off from Boston,” Koclanes said. “We had a great second half in Boston.”

To begin the game, the Big Green did just that. The team came out of the locker room focused and energetic during warmups and carried that edge into the first quarter, outscoring the Crimson 24-19. Cy Lippold ’19 led the effort, putting 11 points on the board herself to start out a night in which she posted a career-high 26 points.

Despite the Big Green’s fast start, key players Elle Louie ’21 and forward Paula Lenart ’20 had each accumulated two fouls in the first quarter and had to sit out much of the second quarter. Already missing forward Anna Luce ’21, having Lenart in foul trouble against a much bigger Harvard team required Koclanes to call on Georgia Alexander ’22 to help forward Isalys Quinones ’19 hold down the Crimson’s bigs.

“We called on Georgia Alexander, who hasn’t played very much because she hasn’t been ready to,” Koclanes said. “She’s been putting time in — after hours, before hours, all the hours, Georgia is always in this gym, and it’s starting to show. She did a fantastic job with where she is on the timeline right now to help us maintain that competitiveness in the first half.”

Alexander, who had played a total of 11 minutes all season coming into Saturday’s game, played for 13 minutes against the Crimson. However, the Big Green got outrebounded 19-5 in the second quarter, including eight offensive rebounds. Rebounding ended up being the key to the Big Green’s loss.

“We had one key on our scouting report tonight,” Koclanes said. “We usually give them three. It was one key, and it was rebounding. We weren’t able to do that, and we didn’t earn a victory.”

Despite scoring just three fewer points than the Crimson in the third quarter, there was a clear shift in momentum favoring the Crimson, and Harvard outscored the Big Green by ten in the fourth, sealing their fifth consecutive victory. Besides getting beat on the boards, the Big Green struggled with turnovers and couldn’t reign in a unanimous 2017-18 first team All-Ivy selection in Katie Benzan. Benzan, who the Big Green limited to just five points in Cambridge, sunk six threes en route to a 22-point performance.

Harvard is certainly one of the Ivy League’s toughest programs. With that said, the Big Green will continue to face similar challenges, especially on the boards. One possible solution to the rebounding problem is to box out other teams’ guards, and not count on them staying on the perimeter when a shot goes up. According to Koclanes and Lippold, that is something the Green and White has been working on. 

“We have two small post players compared to a lot of other Ivy League teams, so that’s going to be a repeat thing over and over again,” Lippold said. “As we’ve been talking about this week and as one of our alums reminded us about rebounding, it’s in your heart, not your height. So it’s just effort, really.”

Even given the Big Green’s discouraging start to Ivy play, Lippold is not worried about her team’s ability to bounce back.

“There are starts within the game and there are starts within the season, and they’re both kind of similar just across different spans of time,” she said. “We showed last week at Harvard that we can go scoreless in the first quarter and then outscore them by 15 in the third quarter. So I think it’s the same thing just over a longer span of time now, you have to bounce back the same way we bounced back in that second half, and bounce back this weekend.”

This coming weekend, Dartmouth will face Brown University and Yale University on the road. The Big Green will look to bounce back and improve to a .500 record in Ivy play.