Men’s basketball sweeps weekend

by Ray Lu | 3/2/15 6:10pm

The men’s basketball team extended its winning streak to three games, besting Columbia University 84-71 and Cornell University 56-45 this past weekend.

The Big Green (12-14, 5-7 Ivy) trailed their opponents for under 13 minutes over the entire weekend, demonstrating cohesion and dominance on both sides of the ball. With the two wins, Dartmouth avenged an overtime loss to Cornell (13-15, 5-7 Ivy) two weeks ago and swept the season series against the Lions.

“We played both these teams not last week but the week before, so we were pretty familiar with them,” co-captain Alex Mitola ’16 said. “It was a quick turnaround.”

Columbia (13-13, 5-7 Ivy) finished last weekend with wins against Yale University, currently tied with Harvard University for first in the Ivy League, and Brown University. Cornell was also coming off an upset against Harvard.

Against Columbia on Friday, the first half was a tightly contested shootout. Dartmouth shot 61.5 percent compared to Columbia’s 42.9 percent, but the Lions stuck around by hitting six three-pointers, finishing the night with nine on 34 attempts.

The Big Green opened the game 6-0, led by a pair of layups from co-captain Gabas Maldunas ’15 and another basket by Miles Wright ’18. Seven of Columbia’s first eight shot attempts from the field were deep balls. The strategy helped the Lions take their largest lead of the night, 20-15,with 11:14 remaining in the first half after Columbia junior Maodo Lo drained his third consecutive triple.

The Lions, however, would fail to make another from beyond the arc for the rest of the half, missing their next seven attempts. Dartmouth only converted three-for-eight from deep in the first half but was buoyed by 13-for-18 on two-point field goals to take the halftime lead 40-38.

The Big Green led by as much as 18 in the second half on the strength of a season-high 60.4 percent shooting for the game overall. A pair of free throws by Malik Gill ’16 put Dartmouth up 78-60, capping off a 10 minute stretch where the team outscored its opponents 27-9.

“We won the first game against [Columbia] pretty confidently, and we knew that we could beat them again,” co-captain said.

After a three from Columbia tied the game at 51-51, Dartmouth rattled off nine unanswered points, starting with a pair of baskets by Connor Boehm ’16. Gill capped that run with his only three pointer of the night.

Mitola had a team-high 18 points for the game, including half of Dartmouth’s six triples. In addition to his 14 points, Gill added a game-high six assists. Four other players were in double-digits, including Maldunas with 12, Boehm with 11 and John Golden ’15 and Tommy Carpenter ’16 with 10 each. The 84 points were the most in a game for the Big Green since the team posted 87 in a win against Cornell last March.

“It was a total team effort,” Mitola said. “We had six guys scoring in double-figures, and we had so many guys make big contributions.”

After setting a season-high in offense on Friday, Dartmouth came out strong on the other side of the ball against Cornell, setting a season record on defense by limiting the Big Red to 45 points, including just 14 in the first half.

A suffocating effort by the Big Green gave them a 26-14 halftime lead. At just over eight minutes left in the half, though, the Big Red maintained a 12-11 lead over the Big Green. After falling behind, Dartmouth unleashed a three-point barrage, hitting five from downtown — two of those coming from Gill — to take the commanding lead.

Down 47-27 with 7:35 to play, Cornell attempted a comeback, scoring 12 unanswered points to cut the lead to single-digits for the first time in the period. The Big Red, however, would not get any closer to closing the lead, as the Big Green hit five of its last six free throws.

“They made a little run, but we stayed together and made sure we won that game,” Maldunas said.

Gill and Mitola led the team with 14 points each, and Maldunas added 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. While the game was a low-scoring affair, the team finished 48.6 percent from the field. The Big Green’s defense was able to offset a season-high 20 turnovers.

“The keys to success this weekend were a great team effort on defense and just sharing the ball on offense,” Gill said. “We had a lot of assists and a great team effort on defense — a lot of great defensive plays.”

The team has the opportunity to post a .500 record for the first time in 16 years next weekend by winning games against Brown on Friday and Yale on Saturday. Both games tip off at 7 p.m. in Leede Arena.

“We just need to come with the same energy we came with last weekend and keep up the same great defensive effort,” Gill said.

Brown and Yale are the two best rebounding teams in the Ivy League, and the key to extending the Dartmouth’s winning streak, Mitola said, will be keeping them off the boards.