Comeback not enough — women's basketball drops Harvard rematch, 62-49

by Kirby Phares | 1/30/20 2:00am

Dartmouth women’s basketball traveled to Cambridge, MA last weekend to play Harvard University but was unable to claim the victory, falling 64-49. Dartmouth beat Harvard in Hanover on Jan. 11 in the team’s Ivy League opener, but this loss brings it to 7-8 (1-1 Ivy League). The Big Green is now 3-8 out of its last 11 games against Harvard, and the loss extends Dartmouth’s road game losing streak to four games. 

The Big Green came out strong on Saturday and matched Harvard’s play throughout the first quarter. The Big Green struck first as Paula Lenart ’20 scored a jump shot to go up 2-0. During the first 10 minutes, Dartmouth only trailed by at most three points. However, scoring contributions from five different Dartmouth players gave Dartmouth the lead at the end of the first quarter, 16-14. 

Despite the equal play in the first 10 minutes of the game, the Crimson took control in the second quarter. Harvard’s Lola Mullaney set the tone as she drilled a 3-pointer on the home team’s first possession. This gave Harvard the lead, 17-16, and Dartmouth would not regain it for the rest of the game. There were two multiple-minute-long spells without a score from either team, primarily as a result of turnovers. With the score tied at 21-21, the ball was turned over 5 times within a span of three minutes before Harvard was fouled, resulting in a made free-throw. 

With two minutes left in the half, the game began to slip away from the Big Green. After making back-to-back shots from behind the arc, Harvard stretched its lead to nine points. Harvard outscored Dartmouth 16-5 in the second quarter and ended the half up 30-21. Head coach Belle Koclanes recognizes that quarter’s role in her team’s loss. 

“The second quarter lost us the game, particularly that 9-0 run [by Harvard],” she said.

Turnovers were a defining feature of the game. Harvard turned over the ball 20 times, and Dartmouth almost matched the Crimson with 19 turnovers of its own. 

“Both teams were playing pretty fast, which led to a couple turnovers,” said guard Katie Douglas ’22.

The combined 39 turnovers almost doubled the number from the two teams’ last match-up, which featured just 22 turnovers. Dartmouth was responsible for nine. In this past Saturday’s matchup, Harvard punished the Big Green and capitalized on these opportunities. The Crimson scored 19 points off of Big Green turnovers — almost a third of Harvard’s final score. 

The start of the second half sang the same tune as the second quarter for Dartmouth. Harvard rebounded Lenart's missed lay-up on the first position. Then on the other side of the court, Asha Taylor ’22 committed a personal foul — Dartmouth’s eighth of the game. A bucket from Lenart cut Harvard’s lead to eight. However, a slew of missed shots from Dartmouth allowed Harvard to go up by 15 with four minutes left in the quarter — Harvard’s largest lead of the game. 

Taylor commenced the Big Green’s effort to dig themselves out of the 15-point hole after sinking a 3-pointer. This inspired an unanswered eight-point run for Dartmouth. 

The Big Green did all it could to come back against Harvard. To start the fourth quarter, Annie McKenna ’20 and Lenart combined for five points, shrinking the Crimson’s lead to six points with nine minutes to play. Dartmouth continued to fight and was able to add 12 more points during the fourth. But Harvard defended its lead and made a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left to increase its lead to 62-49. Eleven seconds later, Harvard finished the night with two free throws after Dartmouth’s last-ditch effort to foul. 

Despite clawing back in the second half, Dartmouth ultimately was not able to overcome the 11-point scoring deficit to Harvard in the second quarter. In the other quarters of the game, Harvard only outscored the Big Green by five points, Harvard notching 48 to Dartmouth’s 44. 

Harvard scored relentlessly the entire game and Dartmouth did not have an answer on offense or defense. Mullaney and Maggie McCarthy were key players for Harvard, scoring 18 and 13 points, respectively. 

“They are great players and are well respected in the [Ivy] league,” McKenna said of the Harvard pair. “They’re going to make plays, and we have to understand that.” 

Harvard’s success behind the arc was game a significant factor in the victory over Dartmouth. Harvard connected with 11-of-24 3-point attempts (45.8 percent), while Dartmouth only nailed seven out of 21 of their 3-point shots, leaving them at 33.3 percent for the night. 

The Big Green struggled from the field too, going 18 of 53 (34 percent) on the afternoon. Lenart recorded a double-double, leading the Big Green with 16 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes. Four of her rebounds were on the offensive boards. Koclanes was not surprised by Lenart’s solid performance. 

“Paula is one of our pillars … She plays the same way every day,” Koclanes said. “She plays hard and leads us in rebounds, consistently.” 

McKenna and Taylor were the next top scorers. McKenna finished with eight points and six assists, while Taylor had eight points and four steals on the afternoon.

The Big Green continues Ivy League play next week against projected league leaders Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania in Hanover. Princeton is 13-1 this season and riding a nine-game winning streak, while Penn is 10-4.