Sophomore-Dominated Women's Basketball Squad Has Bright Future

The run has ended - but not without a tough fight.

Despite a 1-11 start and 0-2 mark in the Ivy League, Big Green women's basketball won 11 of its last 15 games to finish tied for third in the Ivies with Cornell. At season's end, Dartmouth's record was 12-15 overall and 8-6 in the Ancient Eight.

Dartmouth has now finished no lower than third in the Ancient Eight in 20 of 26 seasons and in 13 of 16 under the direction of head coach Chris Wielgus.

Two-time defending Ivy League champion Dartmouth couldn't attain the first three-peat in 11 years, but 2001-2002 could yield different results.

"To have our three leading scorers, all sophomores, returning for two more years bodes well for the program," Wielgus said. "If they continue to grow the way they did this year, then the future is very bright."

The Big Green returns three starters, Keri Downs (Everett, Mass.), Katharine Hanks (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) and Katie Skelly (Lyme, N.H.). Since Downs became a regular in the starting unit on January 13, Dartmouth won 11 of 14 games.

Downs, who was the top free throw shooter in the Ivy League at 86.4 percent, led a resurgence for the Big Green.

"Things started off slow, but we pulled together and showed how much potential we have," Downs said. "This team wants to win, and we put all we have into everything we do."

A staple in the Green and White's starting five in 55 consecutive games, Hanks led the Ivies in blocked shots (40) and was second in field goal percentage (49.6 percent) and rebounding (8.7 rpg) while finishing tied for third in scoring at 15.7 ppg.

"This season we learned a lot about ourselves and the struggles it takes to put together a great team," Hanks said. "We learned so much and came so far that next year will be a little easier. The prospect of coming back with a huge number of returning players is extremely exciting."

Hanks became just the fourth player in program history to reach 800 or more points and 400 or more rebounds as a sophomore. She has 842 points and 429 rebounds with two full seasons remaining in her career.

The others to reach those figures in their second seasons were Dartmouth greats Jayne Daigle '86 with 949 points, Gail Koziara '82 with 878 points and Ann Deacon '83, 871 points. Only four players have grabbed 400 rebounds after two seasons - Koziara with 748, Daigle with 544, Liz Walter '89, 470 and Amy Nelson '82, 435.

Hanks added 12 double-doubles to bring her career total to 21 and Skelly set a school-record with 23 consecutive free throws at one point during the season.

Dartmouth graduates three seniors, Samantha Berdinka (Speonk, N.Y.), Stephanie Kinnear (Ventura, Calif.), and Sherryta Freeman (Hillside, N.J.). The trio won 66 games in their careers, two Ivy titles and participated in two NCAA tournaments. (Mike King)