Friday, February 8, 2013

The Dartmouth Previews Big Green at Cornell

The Dartmouth basketball teams continue Ivy League play with games against Columbia University and Cornell University this Winter Carnival weekend. The men will travel to New York, while the women will host the two squads here in Leede Arena.

The Big Green men’s team (5-13, 1-3 Ivy) seeks to gain ground in the Ivy League following its first Ivy victory of the season against Yale University last weekend. The Bulldogs (7-14, 1-3 Ivy) fell to Dartmouth 71-62, setting an example for future play.

“We are trying to create the Yale game consistently,” forward John Golden ’15 said.

The Yale win came on the heels of a disappointing 62-50 loss to Brown University. Although Dartmouth was able to play conference-leading Harvard University to an overtime loss earlier in the season, Brown (8-10, 2-2 Ivy) delivered a sound defeat to the Big Green.

“We didn’t come in to play against Brown,” guard Alex Mitola ’16 said. “We know that was unacceptable.”

Unlike the Brown game, Dartmouth is now trying to start games off on the right foot. Against Yale, the team reached a 23-14 lead in the first half, putting the Big Green in the pole position.

“In the Brown game we didn’t get out well, they got a big lead early, we tried to come back but it didn’t really work,” forward Gabas Maldunas ’15 said.

The weekend’s set of games offers Dartmouth a chance to improve their 1-3 conference record, which puts them in a tie for the worst record in the league with two other schools. Cornell (10-11, 2-2 Ivy) and Columbia (9-9, 1-3 Ivy) both share a similar place in the standings, creating an important moment for the Big Green to climb the rankings.

“We have to bring a tremendous amount of energy to come in and get wins,” Mitola said.

A big part of the win over the Bulldogs was Dartmouth’s ability to convert turnovers to baskets, which they led 7-2. The Big Green are seeking to keep up the pressure on opposing offenses and scoring easy baskets off of turnovers.

The Big Green women’s team (5-13, 3-1 Ivy) is riding high after two wins last weekend and looks forward to keeping it up with two more wins against Columbia and Cornell. Dartmouth is now one of three teams with three conference wins, tied with Harvard Univeristy who has also lost one, and Princeton University who has yet to take a loss in the Ivies.

“We had some big games this weekend, particularly the Yale game,” captain Faziah Steen ’13 said. “They were ranked third in the Ivy League. That was a really big win for us.”

The Lions (2-16, 0-4 Ivy) and the Big Red (10-8, 2-2 Ivy) both come in to competition this weekend riding losing streaks. Columbia has lost its past eight games, while Cornell lost both of the past weekend’s games.

“Cornell is a very experienced team, so that is going to be a tough game for us,” head coach Chris Wielgus said. “They play well together. Columbia, year in and year out, they are a scrappy physical team.”

The Big Green are coming into form, winning their past three games by eight or more points and demonstrating the squad’s growing experience

“Of the 11 freshmen and sophomores, eight have never played Division I before,” Wielgus said.

Both Cornell and Columbia focus on creating a difficult time for opposing offenses, pressuring them from the first in-bounds pass.

“They are both press teams, so we have been focused on getting the ball up the floor,” Steen said.

Ironically, the closest the Lions have come to winning a game during their losing streak has been against the Big Red when they went to double-overtime. The two top 10 scorers on the Cornell squad will test the Dartmouth defense.

“On the defensive end, we will be challenged, just like we were last weekend,” Wielgus said.

Some of the players on the team will face off against previous teammates in the Cornell game. Steen will match up with fellow guard and senior, Spencer Lane, also from Detroit Country Day School, while Nicola Zimmer ’14 will face her former St. John’s College High School classmate Joelle Davidson.

“One of the great things about this Ivy League schedule is that although we are going away, we get to come home and play in Leede Arena in front of our fans,” Steen said.

The men will face Columbia on Friday and Cornell on Saturday, both on the road. The women will face Columbia on Friday at 5 p.m. in Leede Arena, and will tip off against Cornell on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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