Men's basketball hangs in against talented Catamounts

by Ben Zimmerman | 1/11/05 6:00am

In an effort that would make Daniel Webster proud, Dartmouth men's basketball pushed the University of Vermont Catamounts to their limit last night. Though Dartmouth left Burlington, Vt., 78-68 losers, the team proved both its tenacity and talent against a Vermont team that nearly beat perennial top-10 Kansas last November.

Fresh off a dramatic 49-46 win over Ivy League rival Harvard (5-9, 1-1 Ivy League), the Big Green men traveled to Catamount Country with as much momentum as they've been able to muster over the past two years.

However, it would take a lot more than a little winning spirit to knock off Vermont.

Even when taking Stanford into account, the Catamounts are arguably the finest basketball team Dartmouth has faced this season. Led by the nation's top scoring tandem, T.J. Sorrentine and Taylor Coppenrath, UVM can score inside, outside and often.

Though a step shy of ACC and Big East teams, Vermont's high-octane game has had little trouble distinguishing itself from its America East rivals. Going into yesterday's contest, the Catamounts had yet to lose a conference game.

Throw into the mix the fact that Vermont Head Coach Tom Brennan was sitting one win shy of his 300th victory, and the Big Green men could certainly be said to have had their work cut out for them.

Yet, as the first half progressed, the sold-out Patrick Gym crowd saw something that it really did not expect to see. Dartmouth College was playing well.

Coppenrath and Sorrentine were doing their job -- by game's end they would combine for 60 points, yet as far as anyone could tell, the Big Green were within striking distance.

Team captain Steve Callahan '05 and this week's Ivy League Player of the Week, Mike McLaren '05, were knocking down threes. Jon Ball '08 attacked the rim at will. And Mike Lang '06 was making everything.

At halftime, the score stood 39-30 in favor of Vermont, and the Big Green were not about to let up.

Lang continued his offensive onslaught, shooting 7-11 from the field on his way to 18 points, and Dartmouth continued to keep the score close.

But on this night, close was as good as the Big Green could do. Coppenrath, who -- by the way -- leads the nation in scoring with 26.8 points per game, returned to form after a sluggish nine-point first half.

The 6'9", 250-pound forward poured in 21 points in the final 20 minutes, willing his team past the surging Big Green, now 4-10 overall. The Catamounts improved to 9-3.

Though the Vermont game may be hard to swallow, Dartmouth will have another chance to return to the win column next Monday at home against Colgate.