Underclassmen shine in basketball teams' opener victories
For the Big Green women, the sophomore class shined as Abbey Schmitt '15 had a double-double and Kamala Thompson '15 recorded a game-high and career-best 17 points in the win. Schmitt's 11 points and game-high 14 rebounds came during a game that was her collegiate debut, since she missed her freshman season due to an injury.
"I'm incredibly proud of how the underclassmen played," Nicola Zimmer '14 said. "We're a young team, so our freshmen and sophomores are expected to contribute a lot. They did a great job tonight, and there were points when it felt like we had all played together for a lot longer than two months."
Dartmouth led at the half, 30-24, but the Bulldogs (0-1) opened the second stanza with a 12-7 run to cut the Big Green lead down to one point with 15 minutes left in the contest.
The Big Green never lost the lead, but Bryant was able to keep the score within two possessions until Dartmouth took over the game with about seven minutes remaining. Tia Dawson '15 and Milica Toskovic '15 led a 10-0 run by Dartmouth to shift the momentum and push the lead to 12 points, giving the Big Green a smooth finish to capture the win.
"We knew they were going to zone press us and trap us and try to get quick steals for easy transition buckets, so our strategy was to pass through their zone and get into a half-court offense so we could control the tempo," Schmitt said.
Zimmer connected on two key three-pointers, one in the first half and another in the second at crucial junctures of the game. The 5'9" guard finished with eight points and five rebounds.
"We did a lot of things really well against Bryant," Zimmer said. "We hit the boards hard and had some great defensive sequences. Our ball movement against the zone was key we scored easily and forced them to switch into man-to-man, their secondary defense."
In the first half, Dartmouth came out with a 10-2 lead, despite some sloppy play from both sides. Big Green guard Thompson led the team with 11 points before halftime, and Schmitt's work in the post facilitated inside-outside play, allowing Dartmouth to pull ahead 16-4.
"Going into tonight, our goals were to move the ball and make them work on defense and stop them in transition," Zimmer said. "A lot of their transition points come off of turnovers, so it was also crucial that we take care of the ball."
On the men's side, Maldunas starred in the win, recording a career-high 25 points and adding 10 rebounds and four blocked shots for the Big Green. The victory marked the first time in eight years that the Big Green won its season opener.
"It's a great thing to get the season started off on the right note," co-captain Matt LaBove '13 said. "Winning the home opener should do wonders for us this season."
The young Dartmouth squad of mainly freshmen and sophomores came out with energy, scoring the first six points of the game, causing Maine to use a timeout right away. The Black Bears (2-1) fought back to tie the game at 10 and eventually took the lead at 13-12, setting up a back-and-forth first half before co-captain Jvonte Brooks '15 made both free throws in a one-and-one situation to give the Big Green a 28-26 lead at the half.
"Going into the game, we just really wanted to concentrate on playing good defense and preventing them from getting to the paint," LaBove said. "We felt that if we could do that and execute on offense we could win. We wanted to push the ball since our bigs are faster than their bigs, which showed with how Gabas was able to play."
Maldunas dominated the game on both ends of the floor. A couple of key baskets in the first half stopped the bleeding for the Big Green, and his blocks on defense energized the team and the home crowd.
"I was really confident going into this game because the coaches have a lot of faith in me and my teammates trust me," Maldunas said. "Also, the year of experience from last year helped me a lot because now I know how tough college games are, and that helped me to get into the right mindset."
The Black Bears were shut down by the Big Green defense, shooting only 19 of 53 (35.8 percent) from the floor including 2 of 13 (15.4 percent) from long range and turning the ball over 17 times. Dartmouth connected on 22 of 49 shots (44.9 percent), including 5 of 19 (26.3 percent) on three-pointers.
"We shot the ball pretty well, and we made them shoot a lot worse than us, so that was one of the key indicators of the win," Maldunas said. "But we allowed way too many offensive boards and second-chance points. We still need to work on our rebounding."
The second half was dominated from the start by the Big Green as the team came out with a 12-2 run, beginning with a three by Kevin Crescenzi '16 followed by two baskets by Maldunas. Dartmouth pulled away for good with a 14-2 run later in the half.
"Our competitive drive really helped us," Tyler Melville '14 said. "We played together as a team and didn't lift our foot off the gas pedal."
John Golden '15 provided exciting plays throughout the game with two three-pointers, two dunks and 13 points. Mitola added 12 points while Brooks contributed nine rebounds.
"Winning the first game is very important, and it sets the tone for the whole season," Maldunas said. "We made a statement last night that Dartmouth is no longer an easy win for anybody, and we are going to fight against everybody and we are ready to bring this program to the next level."
On Tuesday, the Dartmouth women will open their home schedule against Brigham Young University at 5 p.m. Later in the day, the men's team will take on the University of New Hampshire at 7 p.m. in Leede Arena.