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Big Green Defeat Harvard in Ivy Home Opener

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The Dartmouth women's basketball team defeated Harvard, 58-45, on Saturday night.      By Doug Austin

HANOVER, N.H.- The Dartmouth women's basketball team opened its Ivy League home slate in style with a 58-45 win over rival Harvard in Leede Arena on Saturday (Jan. 26) night. The win snaps Harvard's six-game win streak and gives the Big Green their first win over the Crimson since the 2009-10 season.

Harvard (10-6, 1-1 Ivy League) made a push in the final 1:20 of action, cutting the once 13-point Dartmouth lead, to six points courtesy of 15 second-half points from Christine Clark. The six points was as close as the Crimson would get, as the Big Green went 11-of-12 from the charity stripe to seal the victory and move to 1-1 in Ivy League action.

"From the get-go, our defense was unbelievable," said head coach Chris Wielgus. "Harvard is one of the top two or three three-point shooting teams in the nation, so we had the concept that if the ball went inside it was ours, and it wasn't going to come back out again. It worked for us tonight."

Dartmouth (3-13, 1-1 Ivy League), who picked up its first home win of the 2012-13 season, was led by co-captains Nicola Zimmer (Chevy Chase, Md.) and Faziah Steen (Detroit, Mich.). Zimmer tied her career-high with 18 points and Steen added 13, while also recording four assists and three blocks.  Tia Dawson (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) led the way on the glass with seven rebounds while also contributing eight points.

"There was a lot leadership on the floor for us tonight and it started with Nicola Zimmer and Faziah Steen. Faziah's shot wasn't falling, but she was in the passing lanes, boxing out and really doing a great job. Nicola Zimmer was just a force out there. Between the two of them they form a very nice backcourt.  Tia Dawson also did a fantastic job on Temi (Fagbenle) for us tonight."

Leading by nine out of the halftime break, Dartmouth and Harvard continued to go at each other in typical rivalry game fashion. The Big Green, who led the game for 30 minutes, extended their lead with an old-fashioned three-point play from Steen, making it 32-22 following the first media timeout of the second frame.

Steen's three-point play sparked a 10-0 run, which pushed the Dartmouth lead to 39-26 -- it's largest lead of the game.

Harvard made a push with five minutes left in the half, whittling the Dartmouth lead down to seven, but the Big Green dug in on the defensive side of things to create some offense.

Rookie Kaitana Martinez (Hailey, Idaho) hit the front end of a one-and-one to stop Harvard's momentum, but Harvard wasn't going to quietly and cut the lead to six for the second time in the half with baskets from Clark. Martinez would have none of it, and with time winding down on the shot clock, drained a long jumper to push the lead to 46-39 with 1:49 remaining. From there, the Big Green hit free throws to seal the victory.

"On any given day, anything can happen and our kids have worked really hard in the two weeks between games. We don't usually have a lot of time so we spent two weeks working on fundamentals, post defense and really specific things. We were able to execute the game plan and I am really proud of them."

The Big Green had a fast start after Dawson won the opening tip from Harvard's Temi Fagbenle. Steen went straight to the basket to give Dartmouth the first points of the game and set the tone.

The Big Green jumped out to a 7-1 lead at the first media timeout behind early baskets from Zimmer and Dawson. The defense played a huge part in the game-opening run, as they forced the Crimson into three quick turnovers to open the game.

Harvard wouldn't go quietly and with six unanswered points, tied the game at 7-7 at the 13:58 mark. The Crimson took a 10-8 lead at the second media timeout of the half, but Big Green point guard Zimmer put the team on her back. She drained a crucial trey and spearheaded a 9-0 Dartmouth run that put the home team ahead, 17-10, with just over seven minutes left in the first half.

Harvard's Christine Clark hit a jumper as time expired to give the visitors their first bucket in nine minutes, but the Big Green responded by forcing a shot-clock violation on the Crimson's next trip down the floor.

Leading 17-12 at the final media timeout of the half, the Big Green closed with an 8-5 burst and took a 26-17 lead into the locker room. Zimmer led all scorers with nine points while Dawson led the rebounding efforts with a team-best four rebounds.

The Big Green took advantage of Harvard's 28 turnovers, scoring 31 points off Crimson giveaways. Dartmouth also had 11 steals and had 11 assists on 16 made baskets.

The Big Green will continue Ivy League play next weekend when they travel to Providence, R.I., to take on Brown on Friday (Feb. 1) and will conclude the weekend at Yale on Saturday (Feb. 2).  

Big Green Sidelines
Dartmouth moves to 24-14 in Ivy League home openers ... Prior to tonight's game Harvard had won the last 6 meetings between the schools, the longest winning streak for the Crimson in the series ... The win was the first at home for the Big Green in 2012-13. Dartmouth had lost its last six home games prior to tonight's game ... The win was head coach Chris Wielgus' 390th win on the Dartmouth sidelines ... The Big Green move to 1-1 in Ivy League action for the first time since the 2009-10 season when they opened the Ivy League slate 3-0.