Men’s basketball loses to Vermont in weekday game

by Ray Lu | 1/15/15 9:28pm

Continuing its up-and-down season, men’s basketball loses to the University of Vermont by three on a missed last-second hurl from downtown by Malik Gill ’16.
by Kelsey Kittelsen / The Dartmouth

The Big Green men’s basketball team (6-8, 0-1) fell short of a late rally in a 55-52 loss against the University of Vermont (8-8, 3-0) on Wednesday night.

“[It was a] back-and-forth game,” co-captain Alex Mitola ’16 said. “[There were] offensive struggles for both teams, and both teams played very good defensively.”

For games as close as those that end in a three-point loss, coach Paul Cormier said it is necessary to play efficiently.

“Against some teams, maybe you can make a mistake, maybe two, three or four.” Cormier said. “But up there in that environment, you can’t.”

Connor Boehm ’16 had 11 points and shot five-for-seven from the field, raising his field goal percentage for the season to 55 percent, good for first in the Ivy League. Mitola got himself back into double digits after busting his 16-game spree of 10 points or more against Harvard University. He chipped in 11 points, the bulk of which came from his three three-pointers.

The game was a closely contested affair throughout, with nine lead changes and 13 ties. Malik Gill ’16 had one last opportunity in the closing seconds to send the game to overtime, but the deep three bounced off the front of the rim.

“You put yourself in a position to win, and unfortunately, we just weren’t able to put it down,” Cormier said.

The two teams traded baskets throughout most of the first half, but with five minutes left, the Catamounts went on a six-point run to enter halftime with a 29-23 lead. In that time span, UVM capitalized on Big Green ball control issues as Dartmouth turned the ball over five times.

“We just need to be, on a more efficient basis, taking care of the ball a little bit better,” Mitola said.

Dartmouth burst out of the gates after halftime, quickly making up for the deficit caused by earlier mistakes with a 9-0 run.

During this run, four different players scored, highlighted by John Golden ’15’s layup and subsequent free throw point to give the Big Green the 30-29 lead.

Boehm followed up the three point play with a jumper assisted by Mitola to give Dartmouth its biggest lead of the night at 32-29.

Dartmouth and UVM proved evenly matched, continuing to trade blows. For the rest of the game, the score differential would never rise above six points. Big Green contributions came from all over the floor, with eight players scoring points.

“We try to run stuff for as many people as possible,” co-captain Gabas Maldunas ’15 said. “Coach always tells us that the sum of our parts is better than the parts themselves.”

Spreading the ball around prevents teams from focusing on certain players, and that’s what the Big Green had been struggling with the past two years, Cormier said.

With seven minutes left in the game, Mitola hit a three-pointer to give Dartmouth the lead at 45-44. After Mitola’s three, the Catamounts went on a 7-0 run to push the score to 51-45 with 5:24 remaining. The Big Green would never recover.

“We couldn’t really catch them,” said Maldunas. “That was pretty much it.”

Maldunas missed a bulk of last season with a torn ACL, but said that he feels 100 percent better and is working hard at improving for the upcoming stretch against the Ivy League. He shot three for 12 on the night and played for 30 minutes, good for the third-most court time on the team.

The Big Green held UVM’s leading scorer Ethan O’Day ’16 to 8 point, with him making only four of the 11 shots he attempted, but other players would step up in his place. Hector Harold ’15 and Dre Wills ’17 led UVM with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

In the last five minutes, Dartmouth simply could not get its shots to fall, going one-for-six from the field after the Catamounts’s run, including Gill’s final heave.

“Our defense is keeping us in games,” Mitola said. “We just need to get a little bit better on the other end.”

The Big Green has a career record of 57-42 against the Catamounts, but have dropped 15 of the last 16 matches against them, including the last seven straight.

Dartmouth will host New Jersey Institute of Technology in Leede Arena Saturday, Jan. 17 for its final non-conference game this season before travelling to Cambridge, Mass. for a rematch against Harvard.