Men’s basketball on seven-game losing streak with two road losses

by Boyd Bragg | 2/3/20 2:05am

2-3-20-sports-mensbasketball-lonagirardin

The Big Green is still looking for its first Ivy League win after losses to Princeton and Penn this weekend.

by Lona Girardin / The Dartmouth

Poor shooting by the Big Green played a role in the team’s sixth and seventh consecutive loss at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania. Dartmouth lost to Princeton (9-8, 4-0 Ivy) on Friday by a score of 66-44. On Saturday night, the team lost to Penn (10-7, 2-2 Ivy) in a 54-46 effort.

Dartmouth entered the back-to-back road games with a focus on containing Princeton center Richmond Aririguzoh and Penn forward A.J. Brodeur. Dartmouth head coach David McLaughlin emphasized the importance of defending both big men in their two road game test.

“When you have good big men that teams play through, you have to be completely ready to prepare for them on the offensive end,” McLaughlin said. “And these are two guys you have to prepare for on the defensive end as well. They rebound the ball well, they guard one on one well, they guard the ball screen well.”

The team started off strong Friday night at Princeton, with both sides trading buckets back and forth throughout the first half. The half concluded with Dartmouth down 32-27, but the Big Green limited Aririguzoh to six first-half points. Dartmouth struggled to find the basket in the second half, falling back into a scoring slump.

Offensive struggles have been a consistent theme in many of the Big Green’s recent games. When asked about tightening up the team’s offensive productiveness, guard James Foye ’20 pointed out two weaknesses the team constantly practiced entering the Princeton matchup.

“One is our turnovers — you know, you can’t score if you turn the ball over first,” Foye said. “We think a lot of those are in our control. We watched film on all the ways we did turn it over against Harvard and your just not trying to make the same mistake twice. That’s the first thing, limiting turnovers. The second thing we have been working on is our pace. So just getting into our offense quickly, moving the ball from one side of the floor to the other just makes us harder to guard.”

Dartmouth turned the ball over 10 times against the Tigers. It was the shooting efficiency that separated the two teams in the second half. Princeton doubled Dartmouth’s second half score 34-17 and remained hot from the field. Princeton shot 52.8 percent from the field compared to Dartmouth’s 36.5 percent shooting. The Big Green made just seven field goals in the second half and had four free throw attempts in the game. Aririguzoh led the Tigers in scoring and rebounds, totaling 13 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes of play.

On Saturday night, the team traveled to play its second straight game on the road. Offensive efficiency once again took a toll on the Big Green, as it scored just 14 points in the first half against Penn. Entering this game, Dartmouth knew that it would have to contain Brodeur in order to have a chance at winning. The former All Ivy League forward has averaged 16.9 points per game, 9.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists on 48.7 percent shooting. McLaughlin kept in mind many questions that the team had to answer to contain Penn’s offense.

“How are you guarding them? How are you guarding them in transition?” he said. “You make sure you don’t turn the ball over so they can get out in transition early.”

The team had no answers to McLaughlin’s questions in the first half, as Penn doubled the score of the Big Green in the first 20 minutes. In the second half of play, Dartmouth made clear changes to its game that allowed it to find success near the basket.

“We started to do more ball screens and attacked them off the ball screens,” said Dartmouth forward Chris Knight ’21.

The ball screens created rhythm in the Big Green’s offensive game, as the Penn lead was cut to five points with 41 seconds remaining in the game. The team closed a wide gap that Penn had created and outscored the Quakers 32-26 in the second half.

The team shot 32.7 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from 3-point range. The lack of offensive efficiency for the Big Green has been a factor in their seven-game losing streak.

“There are a lot more games left,” Knight said. “You have to go into that mindset that you could get on a hot streak and go crazy these last few games. We feel like we just need one win and then we can start hitting our stride.”

This weekend’s losses leave the Big Green at the bottom of the Ivy League standings. Dartmouth will look to earn its first conference victory in matchups against Brown University (2-2 Ivy) and Yale University (4-0 Ivy) next weekend. These next two matchups will complete Dartmouth’s four-game stretch of road tests. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Dartmouth a 39 percent chance to win against Brown and a 6.9 percent chance to defeat Yale.