Women’s basketball splits weekend against Cornell and Columbia

by Ethan Strauss | 3/2/20 2:10am

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Annie McKenna led the Big Green in scoring this weekend, scoring 17 points against Cornell and 15 against Columbia.

by Lorraine Liu / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

The Dartmouth women’s basketball team went 1-1 in its last two home games this season, defeating Cornell University (10-14, 3-9 Ivy) in overtime Friday night and losing to Columbia University (17-8, 8-4 Ivy) on Saturday night. 

Friday’s 82-79 win was Dartmouth’s first overtime victory since 2018 against Yale, and it also marked the Big Green’s first season sweep of Cornell since the 2009-10 season. 

The first quarter started slow for both teams with multiple consecutive missed jumpers in the first five minutes. Shooting eventually improved, and the teams traded the lead back-and-forth for the remainder of the quarter. Two big 3s from Kealy Brown ’19 and Asha Taylor ’22, coming off the bench, put Dartmouth ahead by five at the quarter’s end. 

Impressive shooting from beyond the arc helped the Big Green take a 12-point lead midway through the second quarter. The team went 8-13 from 3 in the first half alone. But Cornell pushed back at the end of the first half after a number of made free throws to cut the Big Green’s lead to three. 

“Twelve points to us is nothing,” said head coach Belle Koclanes. “It’s not that large of a lead. We stayed focused in the locker room on solutions — and that conversation is always collaborative.”

The Big Red quickly erased the remnants of Dartmouth’s lead to begin the second half and even built a seven-point lead of their own in the third quarter. The Big Green was again helped by 3-point shooting and points from the bench to stay in the game. Through tough defense, Dartmouth was able to chip away at the Big Red’s lead until taking a one-point lead of its own in the beginning of the fourth.

“So, what we love about basketball are the ebbs and flows of the game and the ebbs and flows of season,” Koclanes said. “Lead changes: We talk about that all throughout the game from quarter to quarter. This group is very task-oriented; when you give them a very specific task, they crush it. So, we try to do that coming out of timeout and sometimes playing catch-up is that task.”

Late in the fourth, the Big Green was able to continue to match the Big Red in shooting. Critically, Dartmouth stopped giving up free throws and hit a few of its own to keep the game close. A made Big Red layup with three seconds to go in regulations tied the score at 73-73 and pushed the game to overtime. 

In overtime, the teams continued to tie and re-tie the game until the score sat at 79-79 with under two minutes to play. After two clutch free throws from Annie McKenna ’20 and another from Katie Douglas ’22, the Big Green defended well to maintain a three-point lead to win the game 82-79.

“I think just the way we played together, everyone came in and did their role,” said Anna Luce ’21. “We looked for the extra pass and executed out of timeouts really well.” 

The Big Green finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field and 55 percent from beyond the arc compared to Cornell’s 46-percent and 27-percent marks. McKenna and Luce lead Dartmouth with 17 and 16 points, respectively. Three Big Green also scored a season-high 32 bench points. Dartmouth did struggle from the free throw line throughout the game only shooting 47 percent, but when the game was on the line shooting improved.

On Saturday, the team played its last home game of the season, losing to Columbia 62-50. Before the game, the 2020 class of McKenna, Paula Lenart ’20, Kealy Brown and Grace Phillips ’20 were honored as part of the senior night celebrations.

Throughout the game, Dartmouth was unable to replicate their spectacular shooting from the night before. The Lions shut down the Big Green during the first quarter, allowing only seven points and forging a 10-point lead entering the second. Dartmouth continued to miss jumpers, many of which were rebounded by the Lions and taken back for a score. In the second quarter, the Lions were able to push their lead as far as 26 points, but by halftime Dartmouth had chipped away a little to keep the score 37-22. 

Apart from a made 3-pointer for both teams, the third quarter started out slow. The teams traded jumpers, but a scoring run by the Lions at the end pushed their lead to 21. In the fourth, the Big Green made a valiant effort, outscoring the Lions 20-11, but the lead proved too much to overcome. 

The Big Green was again led by McKenna with 15 points with Taylor following with nine. The Lions depended on two double-doubles by Abbey Hsu and Hannah Pratt to pull off the victory. 

Dartmouth shot 34.5 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from 3 on the night, numbers much lower than on Friday. The Big Green was also outrebounded 46-29 and again struggled from the line with a 55.6 free-throw percentage. Once again, nearly half of Dartmouth’s points came from the bench. 

The team now sits at sixth place in the Ivy League with a 3-9 conference record. Next weekend, the team will finish its season traveling to New Haven to play Yale University (17-8, 7-5 Ivy) and Providence to play Brown University (8-17, 2-10 Ivy).

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