Women’s basketball takes UMass, breaks losing streak
By Katie Jarrett, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, January 7, 2013
After losing 11 straight games over winter break, the Dartmouth women’s basketball team came up with a win against the University of Massachusetts on Sunday, heading into Ivy League competition with a boost of confidence.
During the skid, the Big Green lost by an average of 18 points against the University of Albany, Northeastern University, Syracuse University, Old Dominion University, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Hartford, Florida International University, Marquette University, Duquesne University, Villanova University and College of Holy Cross.
The Big Green’s struggle over the break also resulted in a last place finish in their own Blue Sky Classic tournament on Dec. 29-30 in Hanover, in which they hosted Duquesne (11-3), Villanova (11-2, 1-0 Big East) and Delaware (9-3).
“The non-conference schedule is great preparation for us,” Nicola Zimmer ’14 said. “Playing against bigger, stronger and faster competition is a great test of our own skill. A season is a process, and despite our losses we’ve progressed significantly from our first game. We are playing more like a team now, we’re sharper with our sets, and we’re feeling good going into Ivy [League] play.”
Despite the results, a few players for the Big Green have shone during the winter recess games. Leading the Dartmouth women in scoring and rebounding, Faziah Steen ’13 is averaging 11.2 points per game while Dawson ’15 is averaging 7.6 rebounds per game. Abbey Schmitt ’15 has also experienced success, posting a team high in rebounds and scoring in three and four games, respectively.
“Our unity and bonding has definitely improved from all the time we have spent together over break and facing and overcoming adversity as a team,” Kamala Thompson ’15 said. “On the court we are trying to strengthen our offensive game. We have great defense and now it’s time for us to capitalize on the offensive end.”
The Big Green’s losing streak ended Sunday against UMass (2-13), as Dartmouth won a thriller 57-55. This win marked the Big Green’s second road win and their first victory since the season opener against Bryant University on Nov. 10.
Dawson led the Big Green in scoring and rebounding on Sunday, with 12 points and 13 rebounds for her first double-double of the season.
“Today’s game was a team win and I would say everyone’s defense stood out,” Thompson said. “Especially Tia Dawson, she was a monster on the boards, stepped off the block and knocked down and made all her free throws.”
Dartmouth began the game strong, holding the lead for the first 11 and a half minutes of the game. Scoring went back and forth until halftime, when the Big Green took a five-point lead into the break. Five minutes into the second half, the Big Green took its largest lead of the game after a three-pointer from Kaitana Martinez 0’16 that put the Big Green up by 10.
A fast break layup off of a steal brought the Minutemen women within three points with 6:56 left to play in the game. Dartmouth responded with two layups from Thompson and Lauren Taiclet ’16 to take their lead back up to seven points. With just under three minutes remaining in the contest, UMass again closed the gap to three with the help of key free throws. A jumper by Daisy Jordan ’16 with 1:46 left to play put Dartmouth up 53-49.
After alternating free throw attempts by both teams, UMass called a timeout with 17 seconds left in the game and Dartmouth ahead, 55-50. With eight seconds remaining, UMass sophomore Millie Niggeling drained a three to bring the Minutemen women within two points. With just seven seconds remaining, Martinez hit two key free throws to finalize the victory before UMass freshman Rashida Timbilla scored a layup at the buzzer, closing off a thriller at 57-55.
“Today’s win felt great because we got huge contributions from a number of people,” Zimmer said. “Tia dominated the boards, Eve [Zelinger ’14] was a spark on defense and moved the ball well, and Daisy gave us points and rebounds at a few critical points in the game. Everyone played a huge role — it was a true team win.”
The Minutemen women also experienced their own struggles, entering the contest with a seven-game losing streak and coming off a loss against Harvard on Jan. 2. Dartmouth’s win evened the all-time series for the two teams at 9-9. This win over UMass marks Coach Chris Wielgus’s 389th win at Dartmouth as she closes the gap to reach the 400 win mark.
“We played a lot of very good, tough teams in our non-conference season to prepare us for Ivy League play,” Schmitt said. “There have been spurts in each game where we worked as a team and played really good basketball. We have been close at points in the game with some amazing teams, now we just have to put a full game together, keep up the energy and play well for the entirety.”
The Big Green will kick off its Ivy League season at Harvard on Saturday at 2:00 p.m.