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So Far, So Good: Dartmouth Women Improve to 3-0

  • Dartmouth's Emily Slagle battles under the hoop with Rhode Island's Abby Streeter during their game in Hanover, N.H., on Nov. 24, 2017. Dartmouth won 70-54. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth's Cy Lippold chase after a loose ball with Rhode Island's Kasey Gagan during their game in Hanover, N.H., on Nov. 24, 2017. Dartmouth won 70-54.(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth women's basketball coach Belle Koclanes talks to her team from the bench during their game with Rhode Island on Nov. 24, 2017 in Hanover, N.H.(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Members of the Hartford Recreation third and fourth-grade basketball team Cecilie Solomita, 10, left, Nella Bowen, 9, and Stevie Wyman, 9, watch the Dartmouth women's basketball team in Hanover, N.H., on Nov. 24. With them is Tonya Hoyt, Stevie's mother. The team watched the game from the balcony of Leede Arena, part of Dartmouth's community outreach program. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, November 24, 2017

Hanover — Belle Koclanes strode into a Berry Center meeting room Friday afternoon and extended her hand to an acquaintance.

“Happy basketball season!” exclaimed the always-buoyant, fifth-year coach of the Dartmouth women’s basketball team.

It has been so far for the Big Green, which improved to 3-0 with a 70-54 defeat of Rhode Island at Leede Arena. Senior wing Kate Letkewicz had 17 points and 10 rebounds and junior guard Cy Lippold also scored 17 points. Senior guard Emily Slagle scored 14 points and junior forward Isalys Quinones had 11.

Senior center Olivia Smith, who entered averaging 9.5 points, managed only four points in 12 minutes against the Rams, but was second on her team with eight rebounds. Senior forward Andi Norman missed her six field-goal attempts, grabbing one rebound and committing two turnovers during 21 minutes.

Those are the six players Dartmouth is expected to ride this season. The other five players to see action thus far are collectively averaging fewer than 4.0 minutes per game and are all freshmen and sophomores.

There are only two rookies on the 13-woman roster and what was once a five-player sophomore class is down to three with the departures of Gabby Hunter and Danielle Nieters. Senior guard Amber Mixon, who started 21 games last winter, quit at the end of last summer, leaving the point primarily to Lippold. The 5-foot-2 pixie is averaging a team-high 17.7 points per contest after averaging just 2.1 points last season, when she started one of the 16 games in which she played.

“What’s changed is my spring and summer preparation to be able to knock shots down,” said Lippold, one of five children in a family from northeast Pennsylvania. “It’s building the self-confidence to show the coaches that I can do it, and getting the green light to do so.”

Mixon, a strong defensive performer, was so averse to shooting that she never averaged more than 3 points per game, despite playing about 25 minutes per outing. Dartmouth hasn’t had a dominant post player in years, but if Lippold can be a legitimate scoring threat, that relieves some of the pressure and perhaps opponents won’t pack it in on Smith and Quinones.

“We have our first class of seniors who have been with us the whole way,” said Koclanes, who is 42-73 overall and 17-39 in Ivy League play and whose teams have finished eighth, fourth, sixth and eighth in the conference standings. “They’re seeing the fruits of their labor from the time they’ve invested in us.

“We want to play fast and score 70 points per game.”

That would be welcomed by those who remain from a once-robust fan base; Friday’s announced attendance was 427. The Big Green finished 8-19 overall and 3-11 in Ivy League play last season and hasn’t posted a winning record since the 2008-09 campaign. Its best showing in the league standings during that stretch is fourth place. It’s twice finished seventh and twice eighth in the eight-team circuit.

Dartmouth’s undefeated start, which should swell to 4-0 Sunday when winless New Jersey Institute of Technology comes to town, is tantalizing. Bear in mind, however, the level of the Big Green’s opposition thus far. Rhode Island (1-4) has enjoyed one winning season in the last eight years. Boston College is 12-52 against Atlantic Coast Conference foes the past four winters, and Vermont hasn’t won more than 10 games in any of the last seven seasons.

Real tests for Dartmouth should begin next week with visits to Army and Marist. The Black Knights and Red Foxes have each piled up victories in recent years. Should the Big Green improve to 6-0, it would seem to be a legitimate indicator that better things are to come once Ivy League play arrives in January.

“What’s been good is that we’ve been building leads and have been able to spot in some of our younger players,” Koclanes said. “We’re working on (depth) and development. We have other really strong, contributing prospects coming up in our lineup.”

Notes: Dartmouth started last season at 2-1 and was 5-8 entering Ivy play, which it began 1-9. … Lippold is averaging 37.7 minutes per game, followed by Letkewicz (37.3), Quinones (35.3) and Slagle (35.0). … Freshman Anna Luce, a 6-2 forward and the 2016-17 Washington state player of the year, is averaging 7.0 minutes and 2.7 points for Dartmouth, … Former Big Green women’s lacrosse coach Amy Patton watched the game. … Also observing, but through the lens of an athletics department video camera perched atop the east stands, was 26th-year Big Green women’s track coach Sandy Ford-Centonze. ... Introduced to fans before the game was second-year Big Green women’s lacrosse coach Danielle Spencer, who was thanked for her aid to the women’s basketball program’s recruiting. … Dartmouth is tied with Columbia for the Ivy League’s smallest roster at 13 players. Harvard and Princeton each have 14, followed by Yale and Cornell at 15 and Brown and Penn with 17.

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