Men’s basketball extends win streak to five

by Ray Lu | 3/8/15 7:01pm

03.09.15.sports.sportsweekly.mens-basketball_Weijia-Tang
The men’s basketball team ended its regular season with home wins over Brown and Yale Universities.
Source: WEIJIA TANG/THE DARTMOUTH STAFF

Co-captain Gabas Maldunas ’15 and John Golden ’15, the only two seniors on the men’s basketball team, knew that this weekend series may very well have been their last. They sure made it count.

One day after storming back from a 24-point deficit to beat Brown University 75-69 on Friday, the Big Green upset Yale University 59-58 on a last-second layup by Maldunas with the inbounds assist from Golden.

The game-winner was drawn up after a cross-court outlet pass by Golden was swatted out-of-bounds by Yale (22-9, 11-3 Ivy) junior Justin Sears. In the ensuing play, Maldunas cut toward the basket, caught a lob pass from Golden and banked in the make while being fouled.

“[Golden] made the pass to me, [Alex Mitola ’16] set a great screen and the rest is history,” Maldunas said.

Maldunas then intentionally missed the and-one free throw, leaving Yale time for only a desperation heave that fell well short of its target.

The Big Green (14-14, 7-7 Ivy) trailed by five with 35 seconds to play after Yale senior Javier Duren sank a pair of free throws. Miles Wright ’18 took matters into his own hands, rebounding a missed three by Connor Boehm ’16 before getting fouled and making two free throws of his own. Golden forced Duren into a turnover, and Wright came down the court to bury the game-tying triple.

“I think — with our team — that’s what we’ve done this season, persevere,” Wright said. “It’s one of our best traits.”

Duren was fouled with just two seconds remaining but missed his first free throw. That set up the madness of the final seconds that would eventually earn the place of number two on SportsCenter’s top-10 plays.

The Big Green trailed for the majority of the game, but the team managed to keep the deficit just within reach throughout the second half. Duren scored nine of his 11 points in the second half, including back-to-back three pointers to open the period.

The spurt put Yale up by five, but Boehm and Wright responded with baskets to cut the deficit to one. Yale then capped a 6-0 run with a Sears lay-up to take their largest lead of the second half 42-35. No team would score more than five unanswered points the rest of the game, trading baskets before the wild finish.

The Big Green entered the second half trailing by a single point. After falling behind by 10 in the first half, the men went on a 22-11 run to bring the score to 29-30 at the break. Mitola capped the run with his only field goal of the game — a triple — which gave the Big Green its first lead of the game at 29-28.

Yale, the second-ranked three-point scoring team in the Ivy League, limited attempts from downtown in the first half, choosing to settle for two-point baskets and shooting a scorching 61.9 percent in the period. Freshman Makai Mason was a perfect 7-for-7 and had 15 of his game-high 19 points in the before the intermission.

Eleven Bulldog turnovers, though, kept the Big Green in the game. After Mason buried a jumper to give Yale a 19-9 lead with 9:15 left in the first half, Yale turned the ball over three times and Dartmouth capitalized. Tommy Carpenter ’16, Maldunas and Kevin Crescenzi ’16 all converted lay-ups to bring the gap to just four points with a little more than six minutes remaining.

Carpenter led the team in scoring and matched his career-high with 13 points, set two weeks earlier in a victory against the University of Pennsylvania.

Wright had 12 points and five steals and Maldunas was the third Big Green player in double-digits with 10. Against Brown (13-18, 4-10 Ivy), Dartmouth trailed by 24 with 14 minutes to play before thundering back for one of the largest comebacks in Big Green history. After sophomore Steven Spieth gave the Bears their biggest lead of the night, Dartmouth outscored its opponents 49-19.

The Big Green trailed heavily in the first half due to abysmal 28.6 percent shooting. The team struggled to make a shot, missing their first nine attempts from the field and turning the ball over three times before Gill hit a jumper nearly seven minutes into the game.

By that point, Brown had amassed a 14-0 lead. While the Big Green would outscore Brown for the rest of the first half, the early hole kept the Bears comfortably ahead, setting the stage for the scenery change in the second half.

After the game started up once again, the second half continue to see the Big Green slip behind its opponents. Boehm opened up the scoring with a layup, but Brown outscored the Big Green 15-2 to get to their 24-point cushion. Junior Cedric Kuakumensah was all over the court during the run, scoring six of his 11 points while tacking on four boards and a steal.

Behind 50-26, Dartmouth began their comeback with 11 unanswered points, the last five by Boehm alone. Brown remained unfazed. Senior Rafael Maia accounted for the next seven points by the Bears, matching any Big Green momentum.

The last of Maia’s jumpers pushed the lead to 18 with a score of 39-57 before the Big Green responded with their second big run of the game.

“When you’re down 24 points, you’ve got to change some things,” Mitola said. “We really picked up the aggression on defense and started to pressure the ball a ton, deny some passes, and that really got us going.”

The 15-4 burst cut the deficit to single digits for the first time since the midway through the first half. Gill converted back-to-back lay-ups as the Big Green gained ground. The seven point difference appeared much more manageable than the nearly quadruple value it had been only minutes earlier, and it gave the men hope.

Brown sophomore Tavon Blackmon was fouled on a lay-up, converting the field goal attempt and the free throw to put Brown up double-digits once more 64-54 with 5:22 to play. His efforts, however, were not enough to stymie the Big Green’s momentum.

The men outscored Brown 19-5 for the rest of the game. A pair of Maldunas baskets and a three from Boehm whittled down the lead before Taylor Johnson ’18 came through with his only two baskets of the game, the second of which followed a fast break lay-up by Boehm and gave the Big Green its first lead of the game 67-66. Blackmon hit a jumper to retake the lead, but Gill stepped up and buried a long ball. The Big Green sealed the win by hitting five of their final six free throws.

Gill led the team with a career-high 17 points on 75 percent shooting from the field. Boehm had 16 points, his most since the first matchup against Harvard on Jan. 10, and also brought down 11 rebounds.

Golden added 12 points and three steals. Mitola went 0-for-7 from the field but distributed the ball well and hit all six of his free throw attempts, stretching his league-leading free throw percentage to 85.3.

The weekend sweep also wrapped up a five-game win streak, and the men finish the season at or above 0.500 for the first time since the 1998-1999 season, making the team postseason eligible.