Men’s basketball sees 1-1 weekend at Leede Arena
Men’s basketball saw mixed results this week when it faced off with its first two Division I opponents. After falling 77-87 against the Bryant University Bulldogs on Wednesday, the Big Green (2-1) smashed the University of Massachusetts at Lowell River Hawks this Saturday 77-59, wrapping up a three-game showing at home.
The game against Bryant (2-1) was a revenge match for Dartmouth, who lost the matchup last year 66-79.
“We didn’t come out with the same intensity as we came out with against Lowell,” captain Tyler Melville ’14 said. “It was a slow start, and it’s hard to dig yourself out of a hole that you already made, but you know we learned from our mistakes and we were able to get it together we did come back in the beginning against Lowell for the win.”
After a slow start, Dartmouth found itself on the wrong end of a 21-6 point spread. The Big Green was able to battle back, coming within three points of the Bulldogs before the close of the first half, but never was able to surpass the offense.
“We went down pretty early, so from that standpoint, battling back within three points before they went another a run was good,” guard Alex Mitola ’16 said. “We could’ve been right there, we just need to be consistent. They’re not 20 or 10 points better than us, they just played a better game.”
Bryant almost doubled the Big Green’s free throw percentage, making 82.1 percent of the free throws from the line, and made 11.7 percent more of the total attempted shots throughout the game. Dartmouth stayed true to its strengths, however, with just 2.9 percent less of its three-pointers made and the exact same number of total rebounds. The game proved a learning experience for the Big Green for their game against their second Division I opponent, Lowell (0-3).
“Coming into the Lowell game, we looked at the mistakes we made against Bryant,” Mitola said. “We did a poor job communicating on the defense, so we worked on that a lot in practice. We had an advantage in size, so our game plan was to come out and emphasize that strength.”
Dartmouth definitely took advantage of its superior size, with 6’9” center Gabas Maldunas ’15 rebounding the ball 17 times, just two less than Lowell’s entire team combined.
“Gabas obviously had a great game, and all the starters had double digits,” forward John Golden ’15 said. “As a team, we had guys come in and step up because a couple of us were in foul trouble. The starters did what they were supposed to do.”
Though the Big Green was on top for most of the game, the team started off slowly, figuring out how to properly handle Lowell freshman Tyler Livingston, who put up eight points in less than five minutes of play.
“One player on their team made of bunch of shots right at the start,” Golden said. “We sort of switched up defensive assignments to take him out, and we managed defensively to just keep that kid from scoring.”
After the first time out, the Big Green scored 15 points to Lowell’s two, taking a strong lead that they would maintain for most of the rest of the game. The Big Green, with 15 team turnovers and a 52.6 percent three-point percentage, which was more than 10 percent higher than Lowell’s, effectively controlled the court for the rest of the game. After taking the lead early in the first half, Dartmouth would not allow Lowell to come closer than six points.
“We executed the game plan well, which was to feed the ball low and to drive the ball hard,” Melville said.
The Big Green still struggled with approaching Lowell’s free throw percentage, making just over half of the shots taken from the line.
“We still need to work on free throw shooting,” Golden said. “We’re still not shooting particularly well this year which is going to be a big deal because they’re calling a lot more fouls. Defensively, too, we need to start games better to make sure teams aren’t coming out of the gate scoring like both Bryant and Lowell did.”
The change in the NCAA’s foul calling policy has proven a challenge to adjust to for many teams. Both teams had at least 10 fouls in the second half, with Lowell freshman forward Kennedy Chukwuocha fouling out with almost four minutes left on the clock.
Still, the 2-1 record represents one of the strongest starts the team has had in years.
“We’re entering every game looking to get a win,” Mitola said. “We are looking at this break coming up as a big time to improve with three games under our belt that we can learn from. I attribute our success to the guys we have on the team, especially the people that have been here that went through the last few seasons. Everyone is hungry to win.”
Dartmouth will next travel to face the University of Maine on Dec. 1 at 2 p.m.