Men's basketball falls to UVM, 65-53
Dartmouth fought with resilience from the opening tip-off, playing strong and scrappy basketball as UVM attempted to use its height advantage to drive the ball inside the paint. The teams traded baskets during the first half, with Dartmouth using impressive toughness to limit the Catamounts' second-chance opportunities on offense.
R.J. Griffin '13, the Big Green's leading scorer last season, was forced to leave the game after committing two fouls in the first six minutes of play.
With 4:06 left in the half, John Golden '15 hit a three-point shot to put the Big Green ahead, 20-17, and spark a 10-to-1 run. After a timeout from the Catamounts, Dartmouth continued its run with baskets by Matt McKearney '15 and Gabas Maldunas '15. Jvonte Brooks '15 finished the streak by converting two free throws, giving the Big Green a comfortable halftime lead.
"One positive I think we can take away is the first half," captain David Rufful '12 said. "We showed that we can stick with teams in the first half and that we're going to play hard."
UVM increased its pressure in the second half and began to create additional opportunities on offense. The Catamounts pounded the interior of Dartmouth's defense, tying the game at 31 less than four minutes into the half.
Head coach Paul Cormier said UVM's success was due to its better execution in the paint.
"They sealed in the second half with a lot more force," Cormier said. "UVM is a team that punishes you. They play inside and out and we didn't respond well."
UVM also began alternating between man and zone defensive schemes in the second half, leading to numerous Big Green turnovers and other offensive weaknesses. Griffin finished the game with just two points.
"I think R.J.'s early foul trouble definitely took him out of sync," Cormier said.
With nine minutes left in the game and the Big Green trailing 51-39, Dartmouth players began to mount a rally. Rufful hit a big three-point shot and then scored on a driving layup to bring Dartmouth within seven points.
This margin remained until about five minutes left in the game, when UVM's leading scorer, junior Brendan Bald, lit up to hit three consecutive three-pointers. Bald finished with a game-high 21 points.
The Catamounts dominated the last five minutes of the game, further sealing the Big Green's loss. Cormier said he was disappointed with Dartmouth's second-half performance.
"We're a no excuse team," Cormier said. "With the way we played in the first half, we should've put up the points."
Rufful said he was "frustrated" with the end result.
"We didn't finish the game and we need to do that," he said.
Forward Matt LaBove '13 led Dartmouth scorers with 10 points, while Maldunas contributed seven rebounds. The Big Green also received 22 points from its bench.
Cormier added that the Big Green is an inexperienced team with abundant potential, but needs to practice its second-half rallies.
"We are a work in progress," Cormier said. "This gives us a barometer of where we are as compared to last year. Last year, we weren't in the game at all against UVM. We're going to be a good team in time."
Rufful said that although the young players need more mental toughness and experience, they possess impressive skills and are athletic shooters.
Dartmouth plays next against Bryant University on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Hanover.
Cormier said the Bulldogs (1-2) bring a different style of play than UVM, utilizing an athletic game that contrasts the Catamounts' physical play.