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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dartmouth falls twice in the Empire State over the weekend

Dartmouth fell 73-63 at Columbia University, and despite a season-high in points, was outpaced 89-80 at league-leading Cornell University.

Mikey Bond Basketball Floater5.jpg

In Morningside Heights on Friday, men’s basketball took the floor against the Columbia University Lions, seeking revenge against a team that had already defeated them this season. 

Head coach David McLaughlin had preached throughout Ivy League play that his squad needed to get off to better starts and establish an inside game earlier in contests. 

However, in this battle on Broadway, the script was more of the same for the Big Green. Columbia was able to jump out to a 25-7 lead with 9:08 remaining in the first half. They never looked back. 

With 2:27 remaining in the contest, Jaren Johnson ’24 was able to cut the lead to 11 with a jumper, but the Big Green were never able to pull together a run down the stretch, ultimately falling 73-63. 

Columbia junior guard Rubio De La Rosa had 25 points in his effort and ultimately proved too much for the Big Green to handle. Those 25 points were a season-best total.

“I was here early today getting shots up,” De La Rosa said. “I just came and knocked them down.”

McLaughlin said the team was unsure of themselves early on during the game. 

“I thought we executed some good things in the beginning of the game,” McLaughlin said. “We missed some shots in the paint, and I think that affected our confidence a little bit.”

He also said the double-digit halftime deficit put the team under pressure.

“When we made a run, and we needed to cut it to seven or six, we missed those shots," McLaughlin said. “When you find yourself down 10 early and down at halftime, you don’t have to pitch a perfect game in the second half, but things really have to go your way.” 

Men’s basketball player Robert McRae III ’24 spoke on the importance of taking care of the ball.

“We played faster for the first time,” McRae said “We pushed in transition and ran lanes, which allowed us to get open shots and play a more ‘fun’ brand of basketball that we all enjoyed. I think down the stretch turnovers hurt a lot, but we also couldn’t get the stops we needed to bridge the comeback we wanted.”

Dusan Neskovic ’24 led the scoring off the bench with 18 points, going six-for-16 from the field. Although he was unable to score, Niko Abusara ’27 saw some of his first significant minutes, playing for 25 off of the bench.

The double-header weekends in Ivy League Basketball don’t allow for any sort of rest, however. The Big Green were back in action the next night in Ithaca, New York to take on the Cornell University Big Red. 

“We had a heck of a trip getting here and weren’t in bed until about 3:30 in the morning,” McLaughlin said. 

Although Cornell entered this contest second in the Ivy League standings, the Big Green shot out of the gates, at one point carrying a 14-point lead with 5:35 remaining in the opening period. 

Thirty seconds prior, the Big Green led 40-29 and inbounded the ball after a Cornell made free throw. Neskovic caught the ball at the top of the key. He paused for a second and in doing so, froze defender Jake Fiegen. 

Neskovic then moved around Fiegen as if he weren’t there and made his move to the cup. He tucked the ball in his right wrist, a technique reminiscent of Philadelphia 76ers legend Julius Erving. Cornell junior forward Guy Ragland Jr. stood in his way. Neskovic wasn’t bothered by his presence. He rose, floating until he posterized Ragland.

Neskovic stared down the Dartmouth bench on the opposite end of the court to send a message of his indelible mark on this basketball game. Neskovic then proceeded to coolly sink his awarded free throw, extending the Dartmouth lead to its largest, at 14.  

However, the large lead was short-lived, as the Big Red rattled off a 12-0 run over the next three minutes and 14 seconds, eventually taking a 50-47 lead into halftime. 

With 14:42 remaining in the second period, Johnson cut the lead to two with a layup. However, Dartmouth’s lead would never get to that size again, as the Big Red pulled away to win 89-80. 

Dartmouth outshot Cornell from the field and from beyond the arc on Saturday night, but the seventeen to seven turnover ratio was too much to overcome. 

Neskovic again led the way, pouring in 23 points on 13 shots, this time assuming his usual role as a starter. 

After the game, McLaughlin shared his thoughts on the tough loss, despite the team scoring a season-high 80 points. 

“We talk about sharing the juices, and we talk about guys executing and playing together,” McLaughlin said. “All this did was say when we play with passion, we play together, and we play aggressively, a lot of guys can contribute out there.”

McLaughlin also emphasized the importance of the upcoming weekend. 

“We need to have a really good Monday and set the tone for the week,” McLaughlin said. “When I was done talking with the team, that was the last message. Let’s have a good Monday, set the tone for a good week and defend our home court next weekend.”

Here’s a look into the Ivy League standings after this weekend’s action:

This upcoming weekend, Dartmouth will host the University of Pennsylvania (9–15, 1–8 Ivy) and Princeton University (19–3, 7–2 Ivy), on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Both games will tip at 7:00 p.m. The Princeton at Dartmouth matchup will be Senior Night.