Undermanned and overmatched, the women’s basketball team dropped a weekend pair to Dartmouth (9-10, 3-3 Ivy) and Harvard (14-4, 6-0) and continued its downward slope toward the basement of the Ivy League.

With a rapidly growing injury list, the Bulldogs (4-15, 1-5) have been hampered on and off the court with their shortened roster. But even a full squad might not have been able to slow Harvard Saturday night. The Crimson shot 73 percent from behind the arc on 8-for-11 shooting in the first half to open a 10-point lead at halftime. The Bulldogs could not keep up and ultimately fell, 79-54.

“It’s tough, because Harvard is just a really good team, and they were on with all their shots,” Christina Phillips ’04 said. “We played with a lot of energy, and we’re proud of the way we played. We left everything out there. Harvard would have had to miss a few more shots for us to have had a shot to win.”

For the Crimson, returning Ivy League Player of the Year Hana Peljto and teammate Reka Cserny each had 19 points. Tory Mauseth ’05 had 16 points for the Elis.

“We played so hard against Harvard,” Mauseth said. “They are a good team, but we were making them work, and even though the score showed a definitive win for them, it felt so much closer when we were on the court.”

Against Dartmouth Friday night, the Bulldogs held a tenuous 1-point halftime lead after a late surge, but the Big Green outscored Yale 46-32 in the second half and emerged victorious, 85-72.

Despite the loss, Yale showed signs of life offensively, shooting over 48 percent from the floor and placing five scorers in double digits. Returning from a heel bruise that sidelined her just two minutes into last Saturday’s Cornell game, Bonnie Smith ’04 led the Elis with 16 points. Mauseth and Phillips were joined in double digits by Lindsay Page ’05 and Morgan Richards ’05.

“In the first half, the game was really close, and when we went on a run near the end to take the lead, we were clicking and playing together,” Richards said. “In the second half, we got away from what was working with moving the ball and lots of passing and solid defense. Dartmouth started to pull away, and we could never quite bring it back like in the first half.”

Following a depressing trend for this year’s team, Smith’s return to the lineup was offset by the subtraction of two more players. Aubrey Smith ’04 missed both games with a stress fracture around her ankle but is expected to return soon. And Cassandra Harris ’06 injured her ankle over the weekend, as well.

But that’s not all. Brynn Gingras ’04, the team’s starting point guard for the past three seasons, is likely out for the remainder of the campaign with a fractured thumb suffered Jan. 25 against Brown. Katherine Mardy ’05 hasn’t played since Jan. 14, after leaving the Sacred Heart University game with a leg stress fracture.

Then there is captain Maria Smear ’03. After playing in only six games last season due to injury, Smear’s final year has been marred by a myriad of injuries, including a leg injury that kept her out for five games, a concussion and its aftereffects and most recently a slight ankle sprain.

Instead of quitting, the team has viewed the circumstances as a call to play even harder.

“We can’t make excuses for any loss, but the injuries have affected us not only in games but in practice and psychologically,” Richards said. “When the role of leader has to be passed from one person to another, it’s hard to get in a rhythm. But we’re going to be stronger in the long run because more people will have experience.”

Phillips said the short bench has meant the team cannot fast break as much as it would like, foul concerns become more prominent and practices are more difficult without the ability to run full scrimmages.

“It’s been really frustrating, but we get along really well as a team, and even though we haven’t been winning, everyone wants to go out, have fun with each other and keep playing the game we love so much,” Richards said.