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Dartmouth Women Win Ivy Title, Punch NCAA Ticket

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Courtesy of Dartmouth Athletic Communications

HANOVER, N.H. -- Defense and rebounding once again carried the Dartmouth women's basketball team to a 64-51 win over Harvard tonight to clinch the outright Ivy Championship and an NCAA Tournament bid.

Dartmouth earned its 17th Ivy League Championship, second-straight and fourth in the last five seasons. It was the 12th title under head coach Chris Wielgus, who earned her 400th career win tonight. This also marked the Big Green's first outright title since 2000 and the team will be making its first NCAA appearance since 2006. That year the 14th seeded Big Green nearly knocked off Rutgers in the first round.

The teams kept pace with each other for the first five minutes before Dartmouth (18-10, 13-1 Ivy) opened up a 14-7 lead and never let Harvard (19-9, 11-3 Ivy) within five points for the rest of the game.

Sophomore forward Brittney Smith (Fort Worth, Texas) was dominant in the post, tallying 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocks to lead the Big Green. Once again the seniors came up big, with Koren Schram (Batesville, Ark.) netting 18 points and three steals while scoring her 1000th career point. Classmate Darcy Rose (Fort Collins, Colo.) posted her fourth double-double in the last five games with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The Big Green made its presence known against a formidable Crimson frontline, holding a commanding 51-27 advantage in rebounding while shooting 41.4 percent from the floor to Harvard's 36.8 percent. Harvard came in with the league's top offense averaging 70+ points per game but Dartmouth's defense, allowing just 47 points per game, prevailed.

After opening its early lead, Dartmouth kept the defensive pressure on while extending its advantage to 12 points, up 28-16 with 2:12 to play after a Margaret Smith (Fort Worth, Texas) three. The Crimson scored the last five of the half but the Big Green led by seven, 28-21, at the break.

The Big Green extended its lead from the start of the second, going up 36-25 after a Schram three and a Brittney Smith three point play at 17:02. The Crimson tried to increase the pace of play and did cut it to six, 38-32, at 12:01. That was the closest the visitors would get as Dartmouth drove hard to leave little doubt.

Schram gave the Big Green its largest lead, up 14 points, 56-42, with a pair of free throws at 4:39. The Crimson tried to go on a run and Emma Markley cut the lead back down to nine with three to play, but Schram answered right back to get the advantage to double-digits for good.

Meghan McFee (Manchester, Conn.) was solid running the point all night and put the exclamation point on the win with her only bucket, a layup at 2;12 to go up 62-49. Each team scored once more before the final buzzer sounded and the Big Green corralled a pair of offensive rebounds in the final 40 seconds to secure the win.

Dartmouth did a number on Harvard's top players, holding Markley to 11 points and four rebounds and Emily Tay, who scored 34 points against Yale last weekend, to just seven points and four turnovers.

The Big Green will take its final exams this week and learn its NCAA Tournament fate on Monday, March 16 at 7 p.m. on ESPN.