Down 21-12 with 7:45 remaining in the first half, the Big Green seemed unfit to stop Yale University’s 10-0 scoring run. Worse still, Dartmouth hadn’t scored a point of their own in the last 4:08.
It was then that Yale star forward Danny Wolf received a pass at the top of the key. Nikola Dimitrijevic ’25 jumped forward to block a shot that never came. Wolf pump faked, the lane cleared and the seven-foot-one player drove to the cup, artfully evading an attempted charge by Romeo Myrthil ’25.
However, there was another force on his way to the basket. Jaren Johnson ’24 never took his eyes off of Wolf after Dimitrijevic bit on the pump-fake. Johnson hunted him down the lane, launching simultaneously with Wolf.
Ball collides with glass. Wolf was denied at the rim.
While Johnson allowed the crowd to momentarily offer their praise, Dimitrijevic sprinted down the court at full-steam, had a chance to recover and earned a quick bucket with a post spin. The Yale lead is cut to 7, yes, but most importantly, the calling card of the Big Green remains in the foreground: good defense.
However, key defensive stands would be few and far between on this chilly afternoon: The Big Green were unable to sustain any sort of momentum. Despite only trailing by 10 at intermission, they allowed the Bulldogs to quickly build a 27-point advantage on their way to a 76-51 victory over Dartmouth.
After the game, head coach David McLaughlin lamented the lack of chemistry from the Big Green.
“We really just didn’t have that edge to finish plays today,” McLaughlin said. “We’ve got to understand that as a team, how do we get to great baskets, how do we get to great looks.”
Dusan Neskovic ’24 questioned the team’s togetherness on offense.
“Overall, we’ve just got to know what we are running on offense better — we have to be better prepared to know what we want to accomplish on the offensive end,” Neskovic said. “Whether it’s getting the ball inside, or if we want to play inside out like we should, I think we have enough in this program to win games in the Ivy League.”
McLaughlin acknowledged the injured members of the team, which included Ryan Cornish ’25, Jackson Munro ’26, and Jayden Williams ’26.
“Injuries are part of the game,” McLaughlin added. “You can’t use that as an excuse, and other guys have to step up.”
When a soldier falls, another must stand up and take his place. Against Yale, that opportunity arose for Ben Brown ’27, who logged his first significant minutes of the season, playing for more than 20 minutes for the first time. To that, McLaughlin lauded his work ethic and readiness for the spotlight.
“[Brown] is going to be a really good player, and he works really hard every day,” McLaughlin said. “He puts the extra effort in outside of practice, and you have to do that so that when your number is called, you are ready.”
Brown acknowledged some of the challenges in adjusting to the fast-pace of collegiate basketball.
“It’s an adjustment I’ve enjoyed making,” Brown said. “Being here, the game is a lot faster — a lot more physical. I’m in the weight room a lot with the team, and I’m just trying to make sure that when I get in, I can compete for the team.”
Robert McRae ’24 said he believes the team can have success by playing as a cohesive unit.
“I’ve seen teams without a go-to guy that play well together and play the right type of basketball [and go on to] win championships before,” McRae said. “So with or without a go-to guy, you still have to play the right brand of basketball and try to win games.”
With the loss, the Big Green fall to 0–3 in conference play, while the Bulldogs improve to 3–0.
Looking ahead to next week, the Big Green will take on the Brown University Bears, (5–13, 1-2 Ivy League), who are led by junior guard Kino Lilly Jr., who currently averages 19.5 points and 3 assists per game. In their last matchup on Feb. 3, Brown defeated the Big Green 73-61 in Hanover.