Men’s basketball falls in Ivy opener

by Ray Lu | 1/12/15 5:36pm

01.12.15.sports.mens_.basketball_Allison-Chou
Malik Gill ’16 had six points off the bench during Saturday’s loss to Harvard.
Source: Allison Chou

With 1,867 people in the stands, the Dartmouth men’s basketball team (6-7, 0-1 Ivy) fell 57-46 to Harvard University (10-3, 1-0 Ivy) on Saturday in its Ivy League opener.

The Crimson defense proved the difference, holding the Big Green to just 33.3 percent from the field and busting Alex Mitola’s ’16 16-game streak of double-digit points.

Dartmouth forced 17 turnovers and were within five points of Harvard with just over 12 minutes to go, but fell behind after a timely 9-0 run by the Crimson.

“When you’re playing a team as good as Harvard, you don’t have a large margin of error,” Coach Paul Cormier said. “I don’t think we played poorly, but I don’t think we played well enough.”

Connor Boehm ’16, who ranks second in the Ivy League with a 53.8 field goal percentage, led the team with 16 points on 6-13 shooting. Gabas Maldunas ’15 put up 10 points and 7 boards, followed by Malik Gill ’16 and Mitola with six points each.

Harvard jumped out to an early 6-0 lead, but Dartmouth cut the deficit to three with 8:32 to go in the first by limiting the Crimson on defense and generating turnovers.

“[Harvard’s] one of the more athletic teams we are going to play, especially down low,” Boehm said. “It’s hard to get shots off inside.”

Harvard had 26 points in the paint compared to Dartmouth’s 14.

Harvard’s Corbin Miller managed a trio of threes in the first half, helping to extend the Crimson lead to as much as 10 early in the match, but Dartmouth had a couple big plays of its own to keep things close. An artful assist by Maldunas to John Golden ’15 for two and Boehm’s three-pointer with five seconds left in the half saw the Big Green head to the locker room down 27-20.

“We have a pretty balanced scoring attack. We have a lot of good players on our team.” Boehm said. “Whether Alex is on or Gabas is on or Kevin [Crescenzi ‘16] is on or whatever, we are going to find the open man. We’re going to find the hot hand, whoever that may be.”

Harvard enjoyed a strong start to the second half, stretching the lead to as much as 11 points. Dartmouth responded with jumpers by Boehm and Mitola and a layup by Gill that brought the score to 38-33, the closest margin since the opening minutes.

Tommy Carpenter ’16, who averages about 13 minutes a game, hustled for three steals in a span of just over a minute, but the team could not take advantage. Both teams then went scoreless for nearly four minutes, stalling Dartmouth’s comeback momentum.

“We had some missed opportunities that we just can’t afford to have against a team playing this well,” said Cormier.

Harvard rattled off seven unanswered points to end the scoring drought, a change in the game that Dartmouth would never recover from.

“We weren’t really on the same page in the second half of the second half,” Maldunas said. “They made a couple of tough shots. We couldn’t come back after that.”

The Crimson’s Miller hit four three-pointers to finish the game with 16 points, while Wesley Saunders, the third-leading scorer in the Ivy League, finished with 10.

“The story of the game was how athletic Harvard is and how well, with that athleticism, they play team defense, and that team defense really suffocated us from being able to get anything going,” Cormier said.

In a low-scoring affair, the game featured two of the best three defenses in the Ivy Leagues, with Harvard at the top allowing just 55.7 points per game. Dartmouth’s defense ranks third in the League, with Columbia University in second behind Harvard.

“I thought the difference was the rebounding down low and our defense down there, which should have been better,” Boehm said.

Dartmouth will travel to the University of Vermont on Wednesday before taking on the New Jersey Institute of Technology at home the following Saturday. Afterward, Harvard and Dartmouth will meet again on Jan. 24 in Cambridge, Mass.

“These conference games mean a little more to us, especially [against] a team like Harvard, who has been on the top of the Ivy Leagues these past years,” Boehm said. “So we’re going to take this one game at a time.”