M. basketball lacks holiday break spirit

by Austin Zalkin | 1/4/01 6:00am

The Dartmouth men's basketball team (2-8, 0-1) endured its usual December skid, going 2-4 overall with a loss in its only Ivy League game so far this season.

After beginning the month with a 65-58 defeat at Lehigh and a 70-50 victory at home versus Haverford, the men dropped a heartbreaking one-point loss to Harvard in Cambridge. The team rebounded to defeat Quinnipiac 69-47 at home before losing to national powerhouses Minnesota 81-62 on the road and Virginia 102-56 in Leede Arena.

The men are 5-15 during winter breaks over the last three seasons.

"It's tough being away from your family and your friends for such a long time, especially during the holidays," said team Co-Captain Ian McGinnis '01.

Dartmouth's loss in the traditional Ivy League opener at Harvard is by far the most disappointing result of the early season. The Big Green led by four points with 18 seconds to play, only to miss a game-clinching free throw and watch Harvard score five points in the final 6.3 seconds to win.

The team has already dug itself a hole in what is expected to be a highly competitive league. If the Dartmouth men hope to dethrone the Ivy elite of Penn and Princeton, they cannot afford to get upended by the Crimson again in their rematch this Saturday afternoon in Hanover.

"I think we all feel like we outplayed them on every level, except for possibly rebounding," said point guard Flinder Boyd '02. "We're all confident that we can play well enough to beat them."

Lehigh

On Dec. 9, after an 11-day layoff for final exams, the Dartmouth men returned to the court and narrowly lost to the Mountain Hawks.

The Big Green led by a point at the half and by the same margin with just under eight minutes remaining in the game, but Lehigh slowly pulled away. A three-pointer by the Mountain Hawks with 1:34 gave the home team a 57-50 lead, effectively icing the game.

"We've had a lot of trouble finishing games off this year," McGinnis said. "We haven't been able to close games out down the stretch."

Dartmouth shooting guard Greg Buth '01 led all scorers with 27 points and added a career-high nine rebounds.

"I've just been pretty confident all year," Buth said. I've been getting a lot of good shots and have been able to knock them down."

Boyd scored 13 points and assisted on four hoops. Power forward Mark Kissling '02 grabbed eight rebounds to go with eight points.

Haverford

After five consecutive losses to open the season, the Big Green won for the first time on Dec. 12 in convincing fashion. Buth once again led all scorers with 20 points on seven-for-nine shooting, and the host Big Green never trailed in the 20-point win.

Kissling pulled down 11 rebounds and scored 12 points. Boyd scored eight points to go with 10 assists.

Harvard

After winning at Harvard in the Ivy opener in 1998, the Dartmouth men went on to a 10-4 League record. In 1999, an opening loss to the Crimson sent the men on their way to a 5-9 Ivy finish. Obviously the December 16 matchup was big.

The Big Green led 41-34 at the half, but saw its advantage evaporate by the midway point of the second period. After falling behind by seven points with under eight minutes remaining, Dartmouth made a 14-6 run over four minutes to regain a tenuous one-point lead.

McGinnis extended the advantage to four on a pair of free throws with 33 seconds left in the game. When Buth was fouled with 19 seconds left, it looked as if Dartmouth would walk away with a win.

But Buth missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Harvard's star forward Dan Clemente brought the Crimson back within one on a three-pointer with 6.3 seconds left. Harvard's Pat Harvey finished the Big Green, stealing their inbounds pass and converting two free throws for an improbable comeback victory.

"It was a nightmare, probably one of the most disappointing moments I've had in basketball, definitely the most disappointing game I've had at Dartmouth," Boyd said.

The Big Green suffered from 21 turnovers.

"We had the game and made mistake after mistake to basically hand the guys the game," Buth said.

Buth led all scorers with 24 points. Kissling had 16, small forward Charles Harris '02 poured in 14 and McGinnis scored 10.

Quinnipiac

Dartmouth got its second lopsided win of the season over Quinnipiac on Dec. 19.

Buth yet again led all scorers with 21 points. Kissling had 15 points to go along with 12 rebounds.

McGinnis pulled down 13 boards. Boyd had six points and six assists.

Minnesota

The top-30 Golden Gophers made quick work of the Big Green on their home floor on Dec. 22. Minnesota led 41-28 at the half, and led by as much as 26 points in the second half on their way to a 19-point victory.

Kissling scored a game- and career-high 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

"Kissling played great," Boyd said. "It was like his coming out party."

Harris and reserve guard Vedad Osmanovic '02 each scored 13 for the Big Green.

Playing near his Edina, Minn., home, Buth scored seven points.

"Despite the fact that we lost and I didn't play very well, just being able to play in front of my family and friends was a good experience," Buth said.

Virginia

The eighth-ranked Cavaliers showed why they are a top ten team against Dartmouth, nearly doubling the Big Green's scoring output two days before New Year's with a 102-56 victory.

Buth regained his form, scoring 16 points to lead the Big Green. Harris added 11 points, and Kissling pulled down five rebounds.

Five Virginia players reached double figures. Chris Williams led the way with 22 points.

Others scoring in double digits were Roger Mason Jr. with 17, Travis Watson with 13, Donald Hand with 13, and Maurice Young with 10.

"Having those be our last two games and then going in to play our Ivy League schedule is nice," Buth said. "Those guys are much bigger and quicker than the Ivy League guys we're going to play."

The Big Green return to Ivy League play this Saturday, hosting Harvard.