Men's basketball defeats Penn before falling to Princeton

by Cecelia Shao | 3/3/13 11:00pm

by Zonia Moore and Zonia Moore / The Dartmouth

The Big Green had two nail-biting matches with the Quakers (8-20, 5-6 Ivy) and the Tigers (16-9, 9-2 Ivy), yielding a 69-64 Dartmouth victory against Penn that snapped a five-game losing streak for the Big Green. The Tigers narrowly outstepped the Big Green, with a 68-63 win.

"With four games left in the season, we really want to make a good statement, especially as a very young team," point guard Alex Mitola '16 said.

On Friday night, both Mitola and power forward Connor Boehm '16 carried the team offensively by amassing 17 and 15 points, respectively, to lead the Big Green to a win.

Mitola has become well-known for his prolific three-point shooting.

"Every player can have streaks as a shooter, but the real challenge is to stay consistent and that's what I want to work on as a new member to the team," Mitola said.

The Big Green promptly took the lead in the beginning of the game, but the match soon devolved into a neverending back and forth. Gabas Maldunas '15, a shooter with a 53 percent free throw history going into the game, battled ferociously with Penn junior guard Miles Cartwright by tying the score two times at 57 and 61 with a combination of free throws, layups and foul shots. Dartmouth finally got the defensive stop it needed when Maldunas intercepted a pass and allowed Mitola to score two free throws, putting Dartmouth in the lead with a little over a minute to go. The Maldunas-Mitola duo kept the Big Green in the game with forward John Golden '15 setting up an insurmountable seven-point lead with 14 seconds on the clock and guard Tyler Melville '14 finishing the job with a free throw.

"We came out strong and played nicely throughout the game," Maldunas said. "The score was close because Penn matched up with us pretty well."

The Big Green shot 42 percent overall, but just four of 15 on three-pointers. Penn was slightly more accurate with 44.4 percent overall. Turnovers were the name of the game, with Dartmouth scoring 27 points off the 18 turnovers the Quakers ceded.

Dartmouth led the entire first half against the Tigers but succumbed to a deluge of three-pointers in the second half from junior forward Will Barrett, who managed a career-high 24 points, and junior guard T.J. Bray, who rang in with 21 points.

"We took the lead, but we couldn't get it back despite how much we tried to adjust because, with Princeton's huge team, man to man in every position we were shorter and smaller," Maldunas said. "I think the one most important thing we need to work on as a team is talking more on defense."

Melville led the team offensively, with a career best 23 points by scoring nine of 11 field goals, a pair of three-pointers, and three foul shots. Maldunas also registered 17 points and a game high of 12 rebounds.

As a team, Princeton shot 44.4 percent overall but managed 52.6 percent on three-pointers then sealed the game at the line, sinking 18 of 21 on the night. The Big Green hit 24 of 51 from the floor but only four of 14 from the three-point line.

"With Penn, we managed to drive the ball and keep out in front, but with Princeton, we made a few too many mistakes, like giving turnovers late in the game and not getting the ball out to shooters quickly enough," assistant coach Jean Bain said.

After a promising start with Maldunas, Golden and Melville scoring layups in the first four possessions of the game, the Tigers took their first lead on a 9-0 run in the beginning of the second half. Maldunas and Melville responded with seven and 12 points, respectively, as they tried to bring the Big Green back into the game.

Despite admirable attempts by Mitola and Gill to narrow the gap, Princeton senior forward Ian Hummer, the Tigers' second all-time leading scorer behind only Bill Bradley, closed the game with 13 points.

To finish out their season, the Big Green returns home to Leede Arena to host Cornell University on Friday and Columbia University on Saturday.

"This weekend gave the team a lot of confidence, because with Penn we controlled the whole game, while with Princeton we controlled most of the game," Bain said. "We're definitely going to build on that going into the next weekend and even the next season."