HANOVER, N.H. – For Dartmouth women’s basketball senior, Fanni Szabo the only Ivy League opponent she had not beaten in her four years in Hanover was Princeton. This changed on Saturday night as the Big Green defeated the Tigers, 58-56 in the final game of the 2016-17 season on Senior Night.
Dartmouth concludes the season at 8-19 overall, 3-11 in Ivy League play, while Princeton improves to 15-11, 9-4 in conference play.
Playing her final game in a Dartmouth uniform, Szabo was one of three members of the Big Green to finish the night in double digits. With her 12 points, Szabo will finish her storied career 10th on the program’s all-time career points list with 1,295. With her three-pointer at the 2:09 mark in the second, the Budapest, Hungry native passed Liz Walter’s mark of 1,286 for 10th in the all-time scoring category.
“I was feeling so many emotions before the game,” Szabo said. “I could not really grasp what I was feeling because there were so many mixed feelings. How we won this game was just amazing. That’s what it’s all about and that’s what you dream of for your last game in college.”
For the second night in a row, Dartmouth got the start it needed in the first quarter, as the Big Green outscored their opponent 12-7. The momentum continued throughout the rest of the half, particularly on the defensive side of the ball as Dartmouth held Princeton to just 17 percent from the field through 20 minutes and scoreless from beyond the arc (0-8).
“As we create our defensive identity, our focus has been to rebound better and put the ball in the basket,” said Belle Koclanes, the Gail Boudreaux '82 and Family Head Coach of Dartmouth Women's Basketball. “We are a better team then we were three or four weeks ago. As long as the season is, sometimes you wish it were longer. This team is finally starting to understand and the blessing is that we have this exact same team back next year with the exception of Fanni. We will miss her, but she taught them a lot of lessons.”
With just one half left in their season, the Big Green responded in the third taking complete control of the contest. With about seven minutes to play in the quarter, Kate Letkewicz crashed the boards hard, picking up an offensive rebound and a layup to put Dartmouth ahead 29-22. This was the beginning of a 13-0 run that spanned around four minutes.
Down 40-26, the Tigers responded with a 10-0 run of their own to cut the deficit to 43-36 by the quarter’s end.
In the fourth, the Big Green relied on its defensive pressure to keep Princeton at arms length. With less than six minutes to play, Letkewicz drained a three, putting her team up 51-45. As the clock ticked down to three minutes, the Tigers pulled within a point of Dartmouth’s lead.
That would be as close as Princeton would come to spoiling the upset.
With 2:30 to play, Letkewicz hit her second shot from beyond the arc to give her team some breathing room. On the following Tiger's possession, rookie scoring sensation Bella Alarie hit a layup as Princeton drew within two. Letkewicz responded by sinking a layup of her own with 1:20 to play, to put the Big Green ahead, 58-54.
In the game’s final minute, the Tigers’ Taylor Brown hit a jumper to bring Princeton within a field goal of tying the score, but Dartmouth’s defense held on for the victory sending the Big Green into the off season on a high-note.