Men’s basketball sets scoring record versus Pine Manor 121-56

by Alexander Agadjanian | 1/18/16 7:00pm

In the final tune-up game before the Ivy League schedule permanently sets in, Dartmouth reeled off its most explosive offensive performance of the season. By point total, it was also the best offensive showing in the program’s entire history.

Playing in Leede Arena in the second matchup of a five-game home stretch, the Big Green (6-9) utilized its superior interior strength to the fullest extent, accruing a substantial lead early on, and built on it throughout the rest of the day to trounce visiting Pine Manor College (9-8) 121-56, setting a single-game school scoring record in the process.

Facing the Gators — a Division III independent in its second year as a basketball program and composed solely of freshmen and sophomores — Dartmouth also set a program record for made field goals with 50, and posted the third largest ever margin of victory of 65, the highest in more than 90 years.

Evan Boudreaux ’19 led the way once again with 25 points, aided by five other players reaching double-digits. With the blowout ensuing early in the second half, all sixteen members on the roster saw playing time, and all but three managed to score.

Shot-taking accuracy proved crucial and constant throughout the afternoon, as a .633 shooting percentage — finishing a game above 60 percent for the first time in nearly a year — far exceeded the .424 season average entering the game. An overwhelming presence near the basket also resulted in a 59-17 rebound differential for the Big Green, who scored 87 of their points in the paint.

The first half of play — more specifically the first 10 minutes or so — definitively set the tone not only for the game’s balance, but also for the scoreboard margin. As part of scoring on each of their first six possessions, Dartmouth dominated the paint and pulled down offensive rebounds at will — three of which directly led to six of the team’s first eight points in the opening two minutes.

Moreover, all of the Big Green’s first 23 points of the game resulted from drives to the hoop in one way or another — primarily on post-up offense near the rim, but also with free throws off fouls at the rim and transition layups. It wasn’t until the 12:43 mark that Dartmouth produced some offense outside of these drives.

“We’re trying to go inside out, that’s what we try to do against anyone we play,” head coach Paul Cormier said about the interior-focused strategy. “I wanted to make sure against this team that instead of taking the first open shots, that we don’t settle for taking jumpshots. That was a point of emphasis the whole game: get the ball inside and go inside out.”

By halftime, that style of play translated to a 58-35 lead. Entering the day, Dartmouth averaged 30 points per first half on the season, and moreover, saw a majority of its point total — 57 percent — come in the second half of contests. Yet that trend got turned on its head, as the 58 point total marked the most in one half this season. 38 of those points came in the paint — including several fast break points. Further, drives penetrating the paint led to a 9-for-10 free throw mark. In other words, just three three-pointers and one midrange field goal accounted for offense outside of the paint in the first half.

“We knew that they were a little bit on the smaller side,” Boudreaux said. “We knew our bigs would have a chance to really be effective down low, and I think we came out and executed that really well.”

Guard Cameron Smith ’18, who had nine points and three assists in the first half, also noted that this was a key area for the offense, but emphasized the importance of maintaining the team’s usual offensive identity as well.

“We definitely knew we had to get it inside, because we had a big size advantage,” Smith said. “But we were also trying to stay disciplined, because we know we’re not going to have that [type of] size advantage when we play against teams in our league. We just wanted to be disciplined and run our offense, and be able to get good looks against anybody.”

On the defensive end, Dartmouth encountered a few more difficulties. For the visitors, prolific three-point shooting dictated the offensive approach to the game. Notably, the Gators converted seven of 15 three-point attempts, allowing them to stay close in the early parts of the opening 20 minutes.

“In the first half I was very disappointed,” Cormier said in discussing his team’s defense. “We took away the paint, but we gave them open shots.”

That greater defensive response by the Big Green forced Pine Manor to miss all 12 of its second half three-point shots. In addition, the visitors experiencing a giant dropoff in overall field goal percentage from one half to the next, plummeting from .464 to .194.

As Dartmouth continued to exploit its size advantage and post game strengths in the second period, its lead continued to balloon. When Wesley Dickinson ’17 — who, having averaged just 3.1 minutes per game this season, finished the day with 14 points due to more playing time — found some room underneath the rim and easily laid the ball in at 8:00, the team crossed the 100-point mark. This was the first time this season this feat has occured, and the first time the team has scored 100 points since November of 2013.

Boudreaux said that these past two games, wins against Canisius College and Pine Manor, have given the Big Green a lot of confidence going into Ivy League play.

His teammate Smith echoed those optimistic sentiments.

“I think we’re right where we want to be,” Smith said. “Just come out and get this next win, we’re still in contention for this league championship and to make it to the NCAA tournament. So it all starts next weekend.”

Those may seem like lofty aspirations for the team, but considering Dartmouth matched up very well with perennial conference powerhouse Harvard University one week ago, those goals don’t seem so far out of reach.

First, however, the Big Green must take another crack at toppling Harvard after having lost in Cambridge, as the second set of the rivalry tilt takes place next Saturday at 7 p.m. in Leede.