Massachusetts routs men's basketball in season opener in Amherst

by Heita Miki | 11/13/06 6:00am

With two key starters Leon Pattman '07 and Johnathan Ball '08 out with injuries, the Dartmouth men's basketball team could not get anything going against the Minutemen of the University of Massachusetts. The Big Green lost 98-61 in the season opener for both squads in Amherst, Mass.

Massachusetts scored the first 10 points of the game and shot a stellar 61.9 percent, and the Minutemen never trailed in the contest. Dartmouth shot a solid 42.1 percent for the game, but the Big Green went cold from beyond the arc, shooting only 15.4 percent.

Massachusetts (1-0, 0-0 Atlantic 10), picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10, is looking to make the NCAA tournament, while Dartmouth (0-1, 0-0 Ivy) picked to finish last in the Ivy League, is trying to prove its doubters wrong. Both teams were looking to jump-start their seasons by picking up an early non-conference victory.

For the Big Green, Alex Barnett '09 and classmate Marlon Sanders '09 led the way with 14 points each. Brian McMillan '08 had five rebounds and Michael Giovacchini '08 had three assists off the bench to lead the team in those categories.

The Minutemen, with precise shooting, had four players score in double figures. Senior Rashaun Freeman led all scorers with 25 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds. Senior James Life went 5-for-7 from three-point range and scored 17 points. Junior Gary Forbes also scored 17, and freshman Tiki Mayben added 11 assists.

Early in the game, the Big Green men found themselves in a 15-point deficit, down 19-4 with 13:24 left in the first half, as UMass got off to a hot start behind Life's three-point shooting and Freeman's post play.

However, Dartmouth, led by Barnett and Sanders, climbed back into the game. With 3:49 left to play the score was 32-24, and the deficit was down to eight.

Unfortunately for the Big Green, the eight-point margin was as close as Dartmouth would get to UMass for the rest of the night. Massachusetts took command by going on a 20-5 run to close the half, making the halftime score 52-29. Freeman, Forbes and Life could not miss in the first half, shooting a combined 17-21 for 42 points.

In the second half, Dartmouth could not find a way to get back into the game, since the three-pointers were not sinking and Massachusetts continued its hot shooting. The Big Green got the deficit down to 16 midway through the second half, but the Minutemen ran away with the game from there.

UMass was very physical in the contest, and Dartmouth had no answer to the post play of the Minutemen.

Massachusetts, led by Freeman, outscored the Big Green 60-22 inside the paint and out-rebounded Dartmouth 41-24. Massachusetts also held a 14-5 edge in fast break points.

"UMass played very well, very physically, and attacked us from the beginning of the game," McMillan said. "We had a tough time competing against their size and strength, explaining the huge amount of points they had in the paint."

Although the Big Green lost, there were positives that could be taken away from the game. Point guard Sanders proved that he was more than capable of handling the ball, and the Big Green got a solid contribution outside of its starting five with 17 points off the bench.

To have a successful campaign, the men in green must keep teams from going on long runs like the one UMass had to close the first half. They must also cut back on the turnovers and tighten up their defense to not allow easy shots for the opponent.

"We have to stop the big runs," McMillan said. "We seem to get within striking distance and then the other team goes on a 10-15 point run. If we want to make a run at the Ivy League title, we have to learn how to put an entire game together and fight through the runs."

The Big Green will be back in action on Tuesday when it travels to Washington D.C. to take on George Washington (1-0), another A-10 foe. George Washington is coming off its best season in school history, posting a 26-1 regular season mark and making the NCAA tournament.

Dartmouth's home opener will be on Saturday at 2 p.m. against Colgate. The Raiders (0-1) dropped their first game of the season Friday night in a home loss to Stony Brook.