Men’s basketball drops back-to-back contests to Brown and Yale

The Big Green could not continue its momentum following Adelekun’s historic performance over Columbia, losing both of these games by double-digit margins to drop to sixth place in the Ivy League.

by Will Dehmel and Ava Politis | 2/6/23 1:05am

by Michael Bond / The Dartmouth

Men’s basketball lost some ground in the Ivy League standings last weekend after dropping home games to Brown University and Yale University. The Big Green put up its fifth and sixth worst shooting nights of the season in these two games, a frustrating encore to its previous two contests, which saw the team put up its second and third best shooting nights.

Reigning Ivy League Player of the Week Dame Adelekun ’23 and the team looked to be picking up steam after his masterful performance against Columbia, but could not carry the momentum into the next two games of the home stand. 

The Bears beat the Big Green 73-61 Friday evening and the Bulldogs ran away with the game Saturday, winning 72-53. The two losses dropped the Big Green to 4-5 in the Ivy League — good for sixth place in the conference — and 8-15 overall. 

The game against Brown looked like a shootout out of the gate, with the scoring opened by back-to-back three-pointers, one from each team. The Big Green, though, could not keep up with the Bears’ shooting. Dartmouth went nine-of-28 from three-point range, while Brown was 13-of-27, a difference of 12 points — the final margin of the game. 

Jayden Williams ’26 had a strong performance Friday, putting up 19 points on 6-11 shooting to set a career high. Most of those points came from beyond the arc, where he went five-of-eight.

“Throughout practice [this week] I was getting a lot of reps up,” Williams said. “My teammates were making me feel comfortable and confident. The way they were giving me the ball to shoot open shots, [Adelekun]’s good pick and rolls and things like that — they made it easy.”

Head coach David McLaughlin was also impressed with the freshman’s performance — but to him it came as no surprise.

“We know he has that in him, we’ve seen it before,” McLaughlin said. “He’s going to be a terrific player here. He still has a lot of growth in him, and he’s got to grow in some areas, but anybody who sees practice every day wasn’t surprised by what happened in the second half.”

Williams received some scoring help from Dusan Neskovic ’24 and Adelekun, who put up 13 and nine points, respectively, but it was not enough to overpower the Bears.

“We didn’t bring the energy as we should,” Neskovic said. “Especially against a team like Brown, who’s athletic and very aggressive on both ends of the floor.”

McLaughlin agreed, saying the difference between Friday and games the team has won previously came down to energy level.

“I think our lack of productivity offensively really affected our passion on the defensive end,” McLaughlin said. “I think just our identity as a group wasn’t where it needed to be…When your energy isn’t where you need it to be and it impacts both ends of the floor, it takes a significant amount to come back from that.”

The key to Brown’s success was double-teaming Adelekun, who scored 17 the last time the two squads played and 41 against Columbia, the previous game on the schedule. In this meeting, Adelekun scored nine points, but was only able to get six shots up and turned the ball over four times.

“It was definitely a little harder to get in my flow,” Adelekun said. “Brown’s a very high energy team; they play a very sporadic defense.”

Adelekun being limited offensively had repercussions for the team at large.

“I think it just got us out of rhythm a little bit,” McLaughlin said. “When you come off a game where you’re running down the floor giving someone 50, 60 touches… you’re just not in a flow offensively.”

But Adelekun said that putting these games in the rearview is the only option.

“You just gotta be confident, he’s gotta turn the page,” McLaughlin said. “But if you’re a really good player — which he is — you’re gonna get keyed on, people are gonna guard you a certain way, and you have to respond a certain way.”

Dartmouth had to keep its confidence up for a game against Yale the next day, and the Big Green was able to do so early, starting off strong with a 22-20 lead after a three-pointer off the fingertips of Jackson Munro ’26. From there, however, Yale locked in defensively, holding the Big Green scoreless over the final seven minutes of the first half. In that time, Yale went on a 13-0 run, pushing the first-half score to 33-22.

Although Dartmouth would pull within eight following a Cornish trey early in the second half, Yale responded and held a double digit lead the rest of the way.

Just like the previous day, McLaughlin credited the opposing defense for the win.

“They made us take some challenging shots,” McLaughlin said. “The challenge for this group right now is learning how to embrace it and staying together.”

McLaughlin’s read was borne out by the statistics, as the Big Green shot 35.8% from the floor, compared to Yale’s 45.8%. 

Even though the Big Green defeated the Bulldogs last time they met in New Haven, Yale controlled this rematch almost the entire way, pushing the lead to 23 points at one point in the second half.

Now standing at sixth in the conference, the Big Green has, for now, lost its spot in the Ivy League tournament with five games remaining in the season. 

The Big Green will face Princeton University this Saturday at 2 p.m. in Leede Arena to seek revenge against the Tigers, who defeated them 93-90 in overtime during their last outing.