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Plenty to Shout About for Dartmouth Women

  • Dartmouth women's basketball head coach Belle Kocklanes reacts to a play during thegame game against Brown on Jan. 25, 2018, at Leede Arena in Hanover, N.H. The Big Green defeated the Bears, 78-73. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Brown sophomore guard Justine Gaziano (4) attempts to steal the ball from Dartmouth senior forward Andi Norman (33) during the first half of the game on Jan. 25, 2018, at Leede Arena in Hanover, N.H. The Big Green defeated the Bears, 78-73. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth sophomore guard Annie McKenna (2) dribbles the ball past Brown senior guard Megan Rilley (1) during the first half of the game on Jan. 25, 2018, at Leede Arena in Hanover, N.H. The Big Green defeated the Bears, 78-73.(Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, January 26, 2018

Hanover — Dartmouth College cheerleaders on Friday threw promotional T-shirts into the Leede Arena stands emblazoned with the slogan “Ivy Madness” and the logo for the four-team league tournament to be held March 10-11 in Philadelphia. The night’s women’s basketball game against visiting Brown was also a little bit loco, featuring 14 lead changes, pell-mell offense and 19 turnovers by the home team.

Despite handling the basketball as if it were a live grenade, the Big Green prevailed, 78-73, over a foe that’s won 13 of 16 contests this season. Dartmouth is only 2-1 in league play, but discussion of it being included in the Ivy tournament doesn’t seem outlandish.

“We try not to get ahead of ourselves, but everything we do is to try and get to the tournament,” said Dartmouth guard Emily Slagle, one of five Big Green players to score in double digits on Friday. “It’s nearly impossible to not imagine yourself there. I think it’s healthy to mentally get ready for a very competitive environment with a packed house.”

That wasn’t the discussion at this time last year, when Dartmouth was 0-3 in the Ivies and en route to finishing 8-19 overall and 3-11 in league action. The Big Green finished eighth and last in the standings for the second time in coach Belle Koclanes’ first four seasons. There were murmurs around the athletic department that another poor campaign might create a change at the program’s top.

Now 10-6 overall this season, Dartmouth is 7-1 at Leede Arena and clearly improved. To what extent will become truly clear during the regular season’s remaining 11 games, all against Ancient Eight foes. Friday’s clash, however, was one the Big Green wouldn’t have pulled out often in the past.

“When you have multiple people scoring, it makes it hard for the other team to defend,” said Slagle, who had 13 points, four rebounds and four assists while making five of eight field-goal attempts. “We like to play fast and score quickly, but we have to stay in our roles. As long as people are taking shots that they’ve put a lot of time into practicing, they’re going to go in.”

Dartmouth drained 48.4 percent of its shots from the floor and sank 11 of 22 attempts from 3-point range. It also made all seven free throws, adding up to one of the better shooting nights in recent program history.

Point guard Cy Lippold had 19 points, 10 assists and eight turnovers for Dartmouth. Center Olivia Smith and forward Isalys Quinones each had 15 points and combined for 18 rebounds, and guard Kate Letkewicz added 12 points and nine rebounds.

Neither team was content to work the ball around much, instead preferring to launch the leather early in the shot clock. When the game’s end arrived and executing the half-court offense was critical, however, Brown missed its last five shots and fell to 13-3 overall and 1-2 in the Ivies.

“We knew going in that both teams wanted to score more than 70 points,” said Koclanes, whose squad hosts Yale (8-8, 1-2) at 5 p.m. today. “There is structure in everything you just watched, although it might not seem that way. Our players were running their lanes and playing to their roles, and when they do that, they get good looks and their scoring percentages are good.”

So the turnovers are OK if you score enough?

“No, I’m not happy with that,” Koclanes said, making a slightly sour face. “We as a team are not happy about that. We want to possess the ball more than we did, in order to score a lot of points. We’d love to keep our turnovers in single digits, but our goal per game in league is 12.”

Koclanes began her college coaching career with four seasons at the University of Pennsylvania, which hosts the Ivy tournament in the Palestra, its legendary 91-year old arena. The coach’s smile grew when asked what playing there in March would do for her program.

“That’s the cathedral of college basketball, and I’ve been to many games there, men’s and women’s, where it’s so crowded you can’t move,” Koclanes said. “I want my players to experience what that’s like, because it’s an amazing environment.”

Notes: Dartmouth as a whole this week unveiled a new “D-Pine” logo combining a curved version of the letter with a pine tree outline in the center. However, sports information director Rick Bender wrote in a Friday email that “the only aspect of the college’s new branding that will bleed over to athletics is the lone pine itself, not the D-Pine.” … John Donnelly, a Hanover High math teacher and its longtime golf coach, also has served for years as the official scorekeeper at Dartmouth games. … A pregame moment of silence was held for legendary University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, who died in June 2016. Koclanes said the NCAA encourages such a display by each of its women’s basketball teams once per season. … In one of Dartmouth’s more offbeat promotional attempts in recent years, the Feb. 10 men’s basketball game against Princeton is being designated as “Flannel Night.” The college will attempt to break the Guinness world record for largest gathering of people wearing tartan plaid, currently at 1,146. Feb. 10 is also National Flannel Day in the U.S. … Working the wireless microphone for in-game promotions on Friday was senior football safety Kyran McKinney-Crudden. … In a gesture similar to that of the Dartmouth football team, the women’s basketball squad now sings the school’s alma mater after games while linking arms on the court.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.