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Szabo Leads Big Green With 31 Points In Win Over Vermont, 66-62

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By Mark Washburn

HANOVER, N.H. – Freshman Fanni Szabo scored 31 points and head coach Belle Koclanes notched her first win as head coach of the Big Green women’s basketball team in a 66-62 victory over Vermont on Monday evening at Leede Arena.

Szabo’s 31 points set a new freshman record for points in a home debut. Senior Nicola Zimmer also finished in double figures for the second time this season, adding 10 points with three assists and three steals. Zimmer connected on both of her shots from the outside and also had one block. Sophomore Lakin Roland finished with five points and three defensive steals before fouling out. Junior Abbey Schmitt scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds, shooting 3-of-4 from the field.

“I'm very excited for our team's first win together. In the locker room before the tip we talked about the pride of playing on our home court and protecting our house,” said Koclanes. “Our team prepared well for Vermont the last two days with a strong focus on offensive execution and a higher level of defensive intensity and efficiency. We want this team to LOVE DEFENSE!"

The defense kept Vermont (0-2) to 31 percent shooting from the field and forced 16 turnovers. Junior Tia Dawson was a force in the paint, recording six blocks, five defensive rebounds and three steals in 26 minutes off the bench.

As a team, Dartmouth (1-1) shot 45 percent from the field (22-49) and 35 percent from the outside (6-17). The team added 16 points from the free throw line and forced Vermont to commit 21 fouls. Although the Catamounts won the battle on the glass, 48-38, junior Kamala Thompson pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds, with eight in the second half.

The Big Green led at the half due to great defensive pressure by Dawson and Szabo. Dawson finished with three of her game-high six rejections, which caused Vermont to take tough angle shots. Szabo led all scorers with 13 points, converting on 4-of-7 from the field and two from the outside.

The opening frame saw six lead changes, but Dartmouth never trailed by more than a single point. The host took its largest lead of the half, 26-18, with 2:50 remaining on a trey by Szabo. Vermont attempted to make it a single-possession game heading into the half, but a running jumper just as the clock was about to expire by Zimmer, gave the Big Green a 28-23 lead after 20 minutes.

Dartmouth held the lead for the remainder of the contest and rattled off several small runs before Vermont edged back late in the contest. Szabo capped off her own 5-0 run midway through the stanza to give Dartmouth an eight-point advantage, 40-32. Continuing her offensive explosion, Szabo increased the lead, 53-44, on her second 5-0 run of the half, as both times she made a layup and then a long-distance shot.

Trailing by nine in the final two minutes, Vermont went on a 7-0 run, before Dartmouth regained a five-point cushion on free throws by junior Milica Toskovic and Szabo. Vermont made a final attempt but a missed three by Kristina White with 24 seconds secured the win.

Vermont finished with 35 points off the bench and was led by Nikki Taylor with 18 points and nine rebounds. White finished second on the squad with 13 points and five rebounds.

“It takes a team to earn a victory. From Fanni's 31 points, to Tia's 6 blocks, Kamala's 10 rebounds, Nicola's 37 valuable minutes played and the bench's positive energy throughout.  It was a great night in Hanover.” said Koclanes.

Dartmouth will head to Syracuse to take on one of the newest members of the ACC in its home opener on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome. The game can be heard live on beginning at 6:45 p.m.