Women's basketball had a game for the ages on Saturday, topping Dartmouth 91-88 in quadruple overtime in Hanover. The game featured a series of herculean performances, making it a challenge to select even the below four plays from all the highlights. However, each was unquestionably crucial to the outcome of what was, according to an Ivy League Digital Network broadcaster, "one of the craziest, if not the craziest, games in Ivy League basketball this season."
The Situation: Dartmouth ball. Columbia leads 74-72 with less than 15 seconds remaining in the second overtime.
Despite allowing a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to slip away, Columbia remained in control throughout the first two overtimes. The Light Blue never trailed in either extra period, forcing Dartmouth to rally to extend the game.
The Big Green was up to the task, however. Fanni Szabo—who put up 31 points and nine rebounds for the game—scored the game-tying bucket at the end of each of those extra periods. Her second such score embodied the age-old adage of great offense beating great defense.
With 13 seconds remaining, Szabo exploded off the top of the key and headed to her right. Sophomore point guard Paulina Koerner—already well en-route to a career-high 53 minutes played—fought through a high screen to stay close. However, Körner's tight defense and a strong contest from senior forward Devon Roeper were not enough. Szabo stopped on a dime, elevated, and sank the tying shot from just below the right elbow.
"At that point, you just have to be really even-keeled for [the players]," head coach Megan Griffith said of Columbia's inability to close out the game. "Our staff did a good job of that for them, not getting too high or too low."
Courtesy of ESPN
The Situation: Columbia ball, inbounding under Dartmouth's basket. Dartmouth leads 83-80 with 3.5 seconds remaining in the third overtime.
Szabo's bucket marked a shift in momentum heading into the third overtime. Dartmouth went on a 6-0 run midway through the period to take a four-point lead, and Columbia needed two clutch free throws from senior forward Tori Oliver as well as a missed free throw from Dartmouth's Emily Slagle to keep the score within three points.
On that final possession, with the Lions' backs against the wall, Griffith drew up an inbounds play designed to take advantage of a mismatch: Dartmouth's Isalys Quiñones, worn down from her work in the post, guarding sophomore guard Emily Surloff.
"[Quiñones] had been jumping all game," Griffith said. "[Surloff] knew she'd get open and she'd just have to get [Quiñones] up in the air and she'd get the shot off."
Surloff did just that. After working around two high screens at the free-throw line, she collected Körner's inbound pass along the left wing and planted. Quiñones, already trailing, bit badly and left her feet going for the block. Surloff took one dribble to her right, and, with under a second remaining, put up a picture-perfect three that splashed through with just 0.6 second remaining.
As the bench erupted in celebration, Surloff kept her wits about her. The sophomore rallied immediately to defend Dartmouth's inbounds pass and ensure that there would be no clean look at another buzzer beater, sending the game into its fourth overtime.
"Emily's a gamer, true gamer, one hundred percent," Griffith said. "She loves those closely guarded, contested shots."
Courtesy of ESPN
The Situation: Columbia ball with the shot clock at 12 seconds. Columbia leads 87-85 with 1:12 remaining in the fourth overtime.
Just as Szabo's shot had given Dartmouth the momentum going into the third overtime, Surloff's three sparked the Light Blue as the team headed into the fourth overtime. Two free throws from junior forward Camille Zimmerman and a layup from Roeper put the Lions up four. Even after Dartmouth's Slagle hit a layup to cut the lead to two, Columbia had the ball with the chance to make it a two-possession game.
Enter Oliver. For much of the night, Zimmerman—who finished with 37 points and 19 rebounds in 58 minutes, all career-highs—carried the load on offense, while Oliver dedicated her attention to the other end of the floor.
"We were really focused on defense a lot, so I think that's where my mindset was," Oliver said. "Then towards the end, when we had to score, it was, 'Ok, now we have to be more aggressive.'"
That aggression served Oliver well. When the senior collected a pass from Zimmerman with 12 seconds on the shot clock, the Big Green defense was slow to close out. Oliver took advantage, pumping once before driving hard to her left. Dartmouth's defenders were on their heels and unable to rally, and Oliver converted a layup to give Columbia an 89-85 lead with just over a minute left.
The Situation: Zimmerman at the free-throw line. Columbia leads 91-88 with just under three seconds remaining in the fourth overtime.
True to the back-and-forth nature of the contest, even when Columbia looked to have the win clinched, Dartmouth almost found a way to force yet another overtime. Needing to hit just one free throw to give the Light Blue a two-possession lead and effectively end the game, Zimmerman missed both of her attempts.
It was a rare mistake in an otherwise superb performance from the junior, and it nearly proved costly. When the second attempt missed the mark, Dartmouth's Quiñones collected the rebound in the far right corner and swung it upcourt to Kate Letkewicz. Letkewicz took one dribble before launching a one-handed prayer—which more closely resembled a perfect spiral from Tom Brady than an actual basketball shot—from well behind half-court.
What initially appeared to be a wild attempt nearly usurped Surloff's shot on the highlight reel, barely rimming out before falling harmlessly to the floor. Ultimately, according to Griffith, the shot was released just after the buzzer and would have been no good. But even if it had dropped, Zimmerman was confident in Columbia's chances.
"It wouldn't have mattered if it went to another [overtime]," Zimmerman said. "We were ready either way—but I'm happy it ended."
Courtesy of ESPN