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A Win Versus Dartmouth Would Cap First Undefeated Ivy Season in League History; NCAA Tourney Already Looms

By Richard B. Tenorio

Opponents take note: Don't touch the Crimson nets.

The Harvard women's basketball team (19-6, 13-0 Ivy) has taught this lesson to Dartmouth all too well. Two years ago, Dartmouth tore down the Harvard nets after a league-clinching victory over the Crimson.

Since then, Harvard has won two consecutive Ivy titles. Three regular season wins over Dartmouth have highlighted that stretch.

Tonight, at Lavietes Pavilion, the Crimson will seek its fourth win over the Big Green, as well as a perfect 14-0 league record--something which no Ivy team has ever accomplished.

"Going undefeated would be a wonderful cap to the season," sophomore Suzie Miller said. "We need to play our game and worry less about what [Dartmouth] does."

Harvard has already set two of its preseason goals: Winning the league and qualifying for the NCAA tournament.

However, memories of Dartmouth's 72-48 trouncing of Harvard and its subsequent celebration two years ago still rankle team members.

"The loss devastated us," junior Sarah Brandt said. "We got killed. Dartmouth played out of their skulls."

On the last Tuesday of that 1994-95 season, Harvard and Dartmouth were tied for first. The largest crowd in Briggs Cage history watched the decisive matchup. Earlier in the season, the Crimson had lost a close 81-77 contest to Dartmouth in Hanover.

Two Dartmouth holdovers from that season, senior Sally Annis and junior Bess Tortolani, have made key contributions this year.

Annis is only one cf four Ivy players (joining Harvard senior Jessica Gelman) with 1,000 points (1,077) and 200 assists (211). Tortolani scored in double figures in 14 of the 16 games since returning from a broken thumb this year.

"Tortolani was effective against us in the first meeting this year [an 81-68 Harvard victory]," Brandt said. "She did some scoring. Annis is also a strong player."

Dartmouth also boasts sophomore Nicci Rinaldi who in the two games against Brown had 31 points and 20 assists.

"We played all three players strong; we were focusing on them," Brandt said. "We made other [Dartmouth] players pick up the slack."

Dartmouth enters Lavietes tonight riding wins over Brown (90-78) and Yale (63-48) last weekend.

"We'll need to stop their drive and keep them off the offensive boards," Miller said. "They're a good fast-breaking team."

Dartmouth ('89-90) and Princeton ('92-93) are the only Ivy teams, other than this year's Crimson, to take perfect league records into the final game of the season. Harvard thwarted Dartmouth's bid with a desperation shot at the buzzer.

Harvard has now won five Ivy titles; This season saw its first repeat performance.

The team will seek its 11th straight win (and 26th consecutive Ivy win) tonight.

In wins No. 24 and 25, against Yale and Brown, respectively, junior Allison Feaster recorded her 14th and 15th double-doubles of the season (25 points, 10 rebounds versus the Bulldogs; 26, 12 against the Bears).

Feaster was named Ivy League Player of the Week (along with Cornell's Kim Ruck) for the week of March 3.

Gelman, who scored 13 against Brown, now ranks 11th on the all-time Harvard scoring list (1,020). She scored her 1,000th career point against Yale.

"Allison is of All-American caliber, and we have two great captains [Gelman and senior Kelly Black]," Miller said.

The Crimson will learn its NCAA opponent's identity on Sunday.

"We'll need to pull together for 40 minutes in the tournament," Miller said. "We have a tendency to have letdowns. We can definitely win if we play as well as we did against Brown.

"Don't play us in a zone; we're deadly. Everyone on our team can shoot the three. It's our trademark. We're also learning to draw the foul.

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