Men’s basketball goes winless on Ivy roadtrip

by Ray Lu | 2/2/15 6:06pm

The Dartmouth men’s basketball team dropped games against both the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University this past weekend. Offensive woes plagued the Big Green (8-10, 1-3 Ivy) in both games, losing to Penn (6-11, 1-2 Ivy) 58-51 and to Princeton (9-10, 2-1 Ivy) 64-53.

Traditionally, the Penn-Princeton weekend trip has been one of the most difficult for Dartmouth. Following the games this past weekend, the Quakers now hold a career 150-58 record against the Big Green, while the Tigers are 146-62. Since the 1955-56 season, Dartmouth has only won both games in the weekend once, accomplishing the feat in the 2008-09 season.

“We lost both games, and we were going into the weekend thinking we could win both because both teams are not as good this year as they are known to be historically,” Gabas Maldunas ’15 said.

Against the Quakers, the Big Green was down 13 points with 8:20 to go when the three-pointers started to fall. Alex Mitola ’16 and Malik Gill ’16 accounted for a pair each, the last of Mitola’s bringing the deficit to 51-54 with 1:35 remaining. Penn’s freshman guard Antonio Woods responded with a lay-up and two free throws, and the Big Green couldn’t buy another bucket.

Gill finished with a team-high 15 points, the only non-starter to score. Maldunas chipped in 14 points and three steals, and Connor Boehm ’16 posted 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting.

“The bench is the heart and soul of the team,” Gill said. “We call ourselves ‘bench mob.’ I think in the Penn game we struggled a lot because I was the only person who scored off the bench that game. Usually, the energy off the bench provides the spark that we need for most games, so that was a real downer that game.”

Dartmouth shot 6-for-24 in the first half, but the Quakers couldn’t pull away. The score was 20-16 at halftime in Penn’s favor. Dartmouth’s defense kept them in the game, limiting the opposition to 33.3 percent from the field.

Before the weekend, Mitola spoke highly of Dartmouth’s defense in an interview with Dartmouthsports.com.

“We’re playing very well on the defensive end,” Mitola said. “We’re going to be in games. We’re going to be in close games, It’s just a matter of doing the extra stuff to get that win. It’s often a lot of little things.”

The difference in this contest was the three-point game. Dartmouth went 0-for-6 for three-pointers in the first half and 5-for-19 in the game, while Penn hit 6-for-10. All five of Dartmouth’s threes came during the second half run.

Sophomore Matt Howard led both teams with a career-high 18 points, while the Quakers’ season-leading scorer Tony Hicks had 11.

The next day, Dartmouth traveled to nearby Princeton. Against the Tigers, the Big Green would never lead. The team improved their shot, posting 48.9 percent for the game but 0-9 from deep. Saturday’s game marked the first time in 78 contests that the Big Green failed to make a three-pointer.

A 14-4 run by the Tigers in the middle of the first half put them up by 10 early. Dartmouth was hurt by 11 first-half turnovers, and Princeton was able to hit 4-for-11 from deep in the half. The Tigers took a 33-24 lead into halftime.

The Big Green came out of halftime with a spark. Cole Harrison ’17 put in back-to-back baskets, drawing the margin to five, but Dartmouth would never get closer. The Tigers responded with a 10-2 run of their own, effectively putting the game out of reach.

Maldunas led the Big Green with 12 points and three steals, and Miles Wright ’18 was the only other Dartmouth player in double-digits with 10.

Sophomore and season-leading scorer for the Tigers Spencer Weisz dropped 16 points and three steals. Senior Ben Hazel came off the bench to hit four three-pointers and finished with 14 points.

The stretch doesn’t get easier for the Big Green. The next game is a road trip to New Haven to take on Yale University. The Bulldogs are currently a perfect 4-0 in Ivy League play, with two wins against Brown University and victories against Columbia and Cornell Universities this past weekend. They also garnered national attention for edging University of Connecticut earlier this season in a 45-44 thriller.

“Us beating Harvard last weekend and losing these two games right now shows that anything could really win it,” Maldunas said. “Harvard beat Princeton by only three points as well, so it’s really up to anyone to win this League. We got Yale coming up next who is 4-0 right now in the Ivy League, but they only beat Brown by four points and Brown is 0-4. So anybody can beat anybody on any given night.”

Dartmouth will face Yale on Friday and then travel to Providence, Rhode Island on Saturday to take on Brown.