The Dartmouth women's basketball team opened its 37th Ivy League conference season with a loss to Ivy League rival Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. on Saturday. Despite an impressive 18 points scored by senior captain Faziah Steen '13, the Big Green (2-13, 0-1 Ivy League) struggled offensively, shooting only 39.6 percent from the floor.
The 71st meeting between the two teams featured a matchup between the Ivy League's longest-tenured coaches and high school teammates Steen and the Crimson's (10-5, 1-0 Ivy League) Emma Golen, who played together at Detroit Country Day.
The Big Green came out strong in the first half with aggressive defense, which spurred Harvard to commit two turnovers in their first two possessions. Yet Harvard settled down after the first few minutes of play and was able to build an early lead, aided by a four-minute drought for the Big Green's offense. Despite flexing their muscles in the beginning, Dartmouth fell into a deficit they could not overcome.
"We played pretty much in spurts and had some good defensive possessions," Steen said. "We were not able to execute on the offense end and were not able to follow through on some of the shots, but we did get good looks."
Two baskets from guard Tia Dawson '15 ended the drought for the Big Green, giving both the defense and offense the spark they needed to chip away at Harvard's lead. Dartmouth cut the Crimson's 20-point lead down to 10 points with 3:41 left in the half.
"The hardest part was the beginning for us," guard Eve Zelinger '14 said. "Playing catch-up after the first few minutes was hard for us to completely fight back."
Forward Lakin Roland 16 and Dawson greatly contributed to the Big Green's offense to join Steen in double digits with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Roland's 13 points marked a career high.
"Lakin did a great job for us coming off the bench," Coach Chris Wielgus said.
Just before halftime, Harvard went on a 12-6 run to extend their lead to 46-30. However, the Big Green refused to quit and Steen drained a three-pointer to jump start off the Big Green's offense in the first few minutes of the second half.
"We had moments of really good play when we moved the ball around and got a lot of touches to create a lot of good options," Zelinger said.
Just three minutes into the second half, the Big Green cut its deficit to 13 points, bringing the score to 50-37. However, Dartmouth never came within less than 11 points of the Crimson and Harvard sailed to victory.
"We did a good job getting the ball inside, but were not always able to convert," Wielgus said.
This win gave Harvard who leads the all-time series between the two teams 41-30 its sixth straight win over Dartmouth. The Big Green has not won its Ivy League opener since the 2009-2010 season.
Dartmouth's effort on the boards was a bright spot with nine rebounds by Steen and six rebounds by Roland. However, the Crimson's offense overpowered the Big Green's defensive pressure, and three Harvard players posted scores in the double figures.
Heading into Saturday's matchup, both the Crimson and the Big Green came off of recent wins after December losing streaks. The Big Green had its first win in 12 games last week against the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The Crimson lost to Boston University, Oklahoma State University and Southern Methodist University in December, but recently beat the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the University of Rhode Island.
Dartmouth has a 14-day break until its next game, which will allow the Big Green to focus on both offense and defense, Steen said.
"We need to work on some one-on-one and help defense," Steen said. "We also need to have better spacing to run a good offense and have everyone on the same page."
The Big Green will be back in action at Leede Arena on Jan. 26, when they face the Crimson once again.
"We're a very young team and need to work hard and not be discouraged," Wielgus said. "We're not looking down on ourselves now we have an idea of how they operate."