Lights Go Out on Big Green
Duquesne Pulls Away to Extend Dartmouth’s Losing Streak
Dartmouth’s Abbey Schmitt (31) makes a long reach for a loose ball against Duquesne last night in Hanover. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth’s Nicola Zimmer (3) sinks a long 3-pointer against Duquesne during the 36th annual Blue Sky Classic in Hanover, last night. Duquesne won, 54-39. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth’s Tia Dawson looks to pass while surrounded by Duquesne defenders. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — Leede Arena was awash in the pop of flash bulbs last night, the work of three photographers setting off shots of illumination from all four corners of the auditorium and even from under one basket. On the court, the Dartmouth women’s basketball team allowed a deadlocked game against Duquesne to get away in, well, a flash.
Tied at 35-35 with 10:30 to play, Dartmouth was looking at possibly snapping its nine-game losing streak and earning the first victory in its own holiday tournament since 2008. From that point, however, the bottom fell out of the Big Green, which lost 54-39.
Dartmouth will face Villanova, a 14-point loser to Delaware during yesterday’s first game, in today’s 5 p.m. consolation contest. The Wildcats are 9-2. Duquesne (11-1) advanced to challenge Delaware (7-3) in tonight’s title game at 7.
“It was amazing to me that we had held a team like (Duquesne) to 35 points, but we made too many offensive mistakes,” said Dartmouth coach Chris Wielgus, whose team fell to 1-10. “We were going too fast and our shot selection was bad. They put up the pressure and we put up bad shots.
“Their defense is one of the best in the country and totally disruptive. We tried to win the game too fast. That’s just our lack of experience.”
With many of those in a sparse crowd shouting approval, Dartmouth rallied from a 35-27 deficit with 13 minutes remaining to create that 35-35 deadlock two minutes later. Newcomer Lauren Taiclet, a 6-foot-1 freshman from Wellesley, Mass., contributed a layup and two foul shots to that burst, finishing with six points and showing a steak of aggression in the paint that her team has sorely lacked the past two seasons.
“She’s very strong and she can score close to the basket,” Wielgus said of the rookie, who was playing only her second college game after being sidelined with an injury the coach declined to disclose. “She’s a big post presence that’s hard for anyone to handle and we’re very excited to have her back. She’s a role player and she did a good job tonight.”
Faziah Steen, Dartmouth’s lone senior, sank a jump shot to pull her team into the tie. However, Duquesne embarked on a 14-0 run during the next seven minutes to put the game out of reach.
“We had a few turnovers and we took some shots really early in the offense when we could have probably gotten something better,” said junior guard Nicola Zimmer, who had a team-high 11 points and added six rebounds. “You start feeling it, but you have to remember there’s still a lot of time left. (Duquesne was) scoring transition points all game and by our taking early shots and not hitting them, it was feeding right into their play.”
Dartmouth trailed by as many as 13 during the first half but was behind only 25-19 at intermission. It was clear at that point, however, that the Big Green was going to have to proceed without much help from starting forward Abbey Schmitt, a sophomore who made only 1-of-8 field-goal attempts and finished with two points, 8.6 below her per-game average. Also struggling was sophomore forward Milica Toskovic, who missed all five of her attempts from the floor and finished scoreless. Starting guard Kamala Thompson, a sophomore, started and played 26 minutes but was 0-of-4 from the floor and had no points.
In their place, the likes of freshman point guard Kaitana Martinez (19 minutes), Taiclet (nine minutes) and freshman forward Daisy Jordan (23 minutes, four points, four rebounds) stepped forward. Last year’s Dartmouth team, with a smaller roster and plagued by injuries, didn’t have such options, although Wielgus said she’s still looking for the right mix of talent at any given time.
“I’m giving everyone a try because we need to figure out combinations,” said the coach, who can be counted to leave sophomore center Tia Dawson (six points, 11 rebounds), Steen (10 points, five rebounds) and Zimmer on the floor for a majority of the game. “I’ve got a couple more kids I need to get in there so I can see how they do. It’s a big squad, with 14 players, and we want to be able to see everyone from top to bottom.”
Notes: Delaware star Elena Delle Donne scored 17 points and snatched 12 rebounds during yesterday’s first game. … The last time Dartmouth won its first game in its tournament was in 2005 and the most recent tournament title for the Big Green was in 1998, … Former Hanover High and Big Green guard Betsy Williams, a 2010 Dartmouth graduate, attended the game. Williams is planning to attend graduate school at Colorado State with the possible goal of becoming a school counselor. … The tournament had predetermined matchups on both days from 2008-11, but has reverted to a championship and consolation game this season. … Dartmouth is 0-4 at home this winter after going 2-10 at Leede Arena last season… Dartmouth and Villanova have met only once before, at the latter’s tournament during the 1980-81 season. … A note in Duquesne’s media game notes asked that the team not be referred to as the “Lady Dukes” or “Duchesses”… Dukes coach Suzie McConnell-Serio is a former WNBA Coach of the Year who assumed her current position in 2007.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.