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Dartmouth one step closer to NCAA berth with win vs. Harvard

NEW YORK (AP) -- Koren Schram scored 13 of her 15 points in the first half and Dartmouth held off Harvard 68-62 on Friday night in an Ivy League playoff game.

The Big Green will face Cornell on Sunday with an NCAA tournament bid on the line. Cornell won a coin pull to get the bye into the championship game. The Ivy League is the only conference without a postseason tournament, forcing the need for a playoff at Columbia to determine the automatic berth.

"I'm really proud of this young team and how far they've come and how well they play together," Dartmouth coach Chris Wielgus said.

Betsy Wiliams and Brittney Smith added 11 points each for Dartmouth (15-14).

Emily Tay scored 22 points and Lindsay Hallion added 18 to lead Harvard (18-11).

Trailing by 12 at the half, Harvard cut it to 46-37 on Tay's 3-pointer 4 minutes into the second half. The Crimson only hit one field goal over the next 9 minutes as Dartmouth built its lead to 58-40 on Smith's layup at 6:45.

Harvard wasn't done, scoring the next 11 points to come within 58-51 on Hallion's jumper with 2:36 left. After two free throws by Margaret Smith extended the lead to nine, Tay hit a 3-pointer and Jessica Knox hit a pull-up to move the Crimson within 60-56 with 1:03 left.

"We basically played the way we should have been playing all the way," Hallion said. "Everyone thought we were going to come back, but we came a little short."

It's as close as Harvard would come as Dartmouth made eight of 10 free throws in the final minute to seal the win.

"There was a little squeezing going on," Schram said. "We got out of the scoring mode we were in in the first half. We had some good defensive stops when we had to."

It was the second time in three seasons the Ivy League finished in a three-way tie for first place, setting up the playoff. Harvard, Dartmouth and Cornell finished with 11-3 records after the Crimson lost to Yale on the final night of the regular season. Dartmouth beat Brown and Cornell topped Princeton to force the three-way tie.

"We could have and should have won that game last weekend and that's a disappointment that's at the top of my list for sure," Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said.

In 2006, Brown, Dartmouth and Princeton all shared the regular season title. Dartmouth beat both teams to win the playoff. The Ivy League has gone to a playoff three other times, with Dartmouth involved in each.

"We just want to play one more game," Wielgus said. "We just want to live for one more day. We see a playoff game and start packing the bus."

Harvard jumped out to an early lead before Dartmouth rallied. Trailing 15-11, the Big Green went on a 9-0 run capped by Schram's layup to take a 20-15 advantage midway through the first half. Harvard cut the deficit to 28-24 before Dartmouth closed the half on a 14-6 spurt. Schram had five points during the run to give the Big Green a 42-30 halftime advantage. She finished the half with 13, going 5-for-6 from the field. Tay had 11 and Katie Rollins 10 for Harvard.

"We didn't play in the first half," Delaney-Smith said.

Harvard and Dartmouth split their regular season meetings each winning on the other team's home court.