Saturday, February 14, 2015

GAME RECAP: Cornell 81, Dartmouth 72 (OT)

Hanover — The lone sound in the Dartmouth College men’s basketball locker room late Friday evening was that of gushing shower head. The mood was somber, for the Big Green had let Ivy League foe Cornell off the proverbial hook, falling 81-72 in overtime.
On the Leede Arena floor, reserves Cole Harrison and Wesley Dickinson took extra shots. Harrison, a sophomore center with no points and a turnover in six minutes, missed an attempt, then leaped to grab the rim with both hands, emitting a frustrated growl as he did so.
This result, as they say, is going to leave a mark.
“Our record is not what we wanted it to be and we’re pressing so bad that we’re not playing totally as a team,” said coach Paul Cormier, looking haggard as he sat on a table in the training room. “I wanted the seniors to have a chance of a .500 season, but I think I’ll go with a longer bench in the last five or six games.
“I’m going to play more kids and see what they’re made of for the future.”
Dartmouth is 8-13 overall and 1-6 in Ivy League play, midway through its Ancient Eight slate. The Big Green was 12-16 and posted a second consecutive 5-9 league mark last winter, but seems to have taken a step backwards.
Part of that is explained by the continued struggles of senior center Gabas Maldunas, for whom Friday marked the one-year anniversary of undergoing reconstructive knee surgery. The Lithuanian had 14 points and 12 rebounds during 38 minutes against Cornell, hit a shot with 27 seconds remaining in the second half to force overtime and gave a warrior’s effort. Nonetheless, it was also clear that he tried a bit too hard.
“He’s pressing like crazy, but that’s not what’s best for the team,” Cormier said, noting that Maldunas too often took shots before Dartmouth had a chance to reverse the ball and stretch the defense. “He’s not selfish; he just wants to win so freaking bad. And it’s not just him, it’s other people, too.”
One of those is freshman guard Miles Wright, who delivered breakout performances on the road last weekend and had a team-high 19 points Friday, but also showed his inexperience.
“Miles was terrific, but he took some ill-advised 3’s too quick,” Cormier said. “The first few he took were part of the offense, but if the others don’t go from the corner, now he’s trapped on baseline and we don’t have numbers to get back on defense. There’s a reason you take certain shots from certain places at certain times.”
Dartmouth, the Ivies’ worst free-throw shooting team, made 16-of-24 Friday.
“It’s always tough when you lose by fewer points than the number of (free throws) you missed,” Wright said. “That’s something we have to fix.”
Point guard and leading scorer Alex Mitola is averaging 12.7 points per game, but four fewer in Ivy play. Opponents aren’t showing Maldunas the respect they once did and it’s putting heat on Mitola.
“They are realizing Gabas is not the old Gabas, and if you’re going to take the head off the serpent, this year it might be Alex,” Cormier said. “They didn’t do anything against Gabas tonight besides guard him 1-on-1 and that didn’t happen prior to him getting injured.”
Dartmouth led by nine in the fourth minute, but Cornell (12-11, 4-3) tied the score at 31-31 by intermission. The hosts were ahead, 60-54, with five minutes remaining but were outscored, 10-4, during the rest of the second half. Overtime began with Cornell winning the tip and scoring on a fast break and didn’t get much better from there for the Big Green.
"We had a couple turnovers down the stretch but we should have persevered,” Wright said. “We have to learn from it and put it in the past.”
Said Cormier: “They play 12 or 13 guys and I didn’t do a good enough job going to the bench. I apologized to the team about us not having our legs down the stretch.”
Cornell, picked to finish last in the Ivies during the preseason, received 17 points and 15 rebounds from star forward Shonn Miller, who missed last season because of an injury. Miller picked up his second foul during the third minute and sat out the rest of the half before playing 24 minutes after intermission.
Columbia (11-10, 3-4), a 4-point loser at Harvard on Friday, arrives at Leede tonight. Five of Dartmouth’s remaining games are at home.
Notes: Cornell entered the weekend as the most-improved team in NCAA Division I, having already won nine more games than it did last season in finishing 2-26. … The Big Red is Dartmouth’s most-common opponent and leads the teams’ series, 105-104. … Miller will have a final season of NCAA eligibility after this winter, but isn’t likely to take it at Cornell. He’s being recruited by a variety of big-name schools at which he’d play as a graduate student. … Maldunas needs 11 points to reach 1,000 in his career and become the 26th men’s player to do so in Dartmouth history. ... Connor Boehm, battling a bad back, had 10 points in 26 minutes. However, the junior forward is now 2-of-14 from the line in Ivy play. ... In an offbeat promotion for fans, Dartmouth gave away cuts of bacon and bacon-flavored products during halftime. One of those was cupcakes with bacon-flavored frosting.
HANOVER, N.H. – For 40 minutes, it seemed as though nothing was going right for the Big Red. Cornell was in many ways, luck to be going to overtime with Dartmouth on Friday night at Leede Arena. The Big Red took the lead five seconds into overtime after winning the tip ahead to Devin Cherry for a layup. Cornell dominated the five-minute extra session and stole an 81-72 victory over the Big Green. Shonn Miller had 15 points and 15 rebounds after sitting out nearly all of the first half after picking up his second foul and ended the contest with 17 points and 15 rebounds (matching a career high) to lift Cornell to its second straight conference victory. Robert Hatter scored a game-high 19 points and limited Dartmouth's leading scorer Alex Mitola to nine points on the other end. Senior guards Devin Cherry (15 points) and Galal Cancer (10 points, four rebounds, four assists) also were in double figures, but it was freshman Wil Bathurst whose spark off the bench seemed to turn the tide. The rookie ended with seven points, including five straight key points to stave off a Dartmouth run in the second half and added two steals and a block in 13 energy-filled second half minutes. After a hot start that saw the home team go up 11-2 just 2:34 into the contest, the Big Red defense controlled the rest of the contest. After making its first four shots of the night, the Big Green connected on just 20-of-50 the rest of the way (40 percent), including 5-of-21 3-pointers (24 percent). Miles Wright had 19 points and five rebounds to lead Dartmouth, while Gabas Maldunas had 14 points and 12 rebounds and both Tommy Carpenter and Connor Boehm had 10 apiece. Missed free throws, inopportune turnovers, allowing offensive rebounds after getting great defensive stops, MIller's foul trouble - things just seemed off all night. Despite the Big Red's troubles, Dartmouth just couldn't put the visitors away. WIthout its A-game, Cornell relied on scrappiness and poise to stick around long enough to go on a run in the extra period. Once there, Cornell led for all but the first three seconds. Miller won the jump ball to Cancer, who flipped it ahead to a sprinting Cherry for a layup. Miller intimidated a shot on the other end and rebounded, where he was fouled. The senior hit a free throw to go up 67-64. After Mitola hit a runner off the glass, Cornell went on a 7-0 spurt to take its largest lead of the night, 74-66. The run was capped by a Miller 3-pointer from the top of the key moments after Cancer split two defenders for a layup and a foul. The Big Green got back within five points, but the Big Red hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 54 seconds to claim the win and improve to 2-0 on the road in Ivy play. Dartmouth raced out to an 11-2 lead after Wright hit a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched around one by Boehm. Moments later, Miller picked up his second foul and went to the bench, but Cornell figured out a way to stick around. Cancer scored the Big Red's first eight points and Ned Tomic provided key offense with four points as the Big Red clawed back into the game. Cornell even took a 25-23 lead after Hatter hit the second 3-pointer of the half a possession after JoJo Fallas hit a trey. The half had a wild final 10 seconds, as John Golden hit a corner 3-pointer to put Dartmout ahead 31-29 with nine seconds left, but Cherry sprinted the length of the court and was fouled shooting a last-second 3-pointer. The senior hit the first two of his three free throws to go into the break with a 31-31 deadlock. The second half was more of the same, with Cornell getting out to a quick start and Dartmouth settling in, taking a six-point lead with under six minutes remaining. Cornell answered with a four-point play by Hatter, then tied it up with a step-through layup by Bathurst, who earlier had a personal five-point run after the Big Green had gone up six points. Miller hit consecutive shots to turn a two-point deficit into a two-point lead with under two minutes to play, but Dartmouth was able to knot the score when Maldunas put back a miss with 27 seconds remaining. Cornell held for the final shot, and Miller rimmed out a 17-footer at the horn that would have been the game-winner. After the overtime win, Cornell will have little time to celebrate. An incoming storm to the metro Boston area has caused Saturday's matchup with first-place Harvard to be moved up to 4 p.m.
HANOVER, N.H. — Playing at home for the first time in almost four weeks, the Dartmouth men’s basketball team led visiting Cornell for more than 30 minutes on Friday night, but the Big Red pulled away in overtime to send the Big Green to an 81-72 defeat at Leede Arena. Shonn Miller scored nine points of his 17 points in the extra period and hauled in a game-high 15 rebounds for Cornell (12-11, 4-3 Ivy) to hand Dartmouth (8-13, 1-6 Ivy) its fifth consecutive loss. Freshman Miles Wright, the Ivy League’s reigning Rookie of the Week, led the Big Green with 19 points thanks to five three-pointers, and senior Gabas Maldunas posted a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards. While Dartmouth held the lead for the majority of regulation, Cornell quickly took control in overtime as Devin Cherry took a pass off the tap for a layup just three seconds into the period. That bucket began a 10-2 run for the Big Red with Miller scoring six of those points, including his only three-pointer to cap the spurt, for a 74-66 lead with 1:35 to play. The Big Green countered with a three-point play by junior guard Malik Gill, and after a Miller dunk, Wright drained his final triple of the night to make it a four-point game with 55.8 seconds to play. That three-pointer provided the last points for Dartmouth on the evening as Cornell converted 5-of-6 at the charity stripe in the final minute to secure the victory. Dartmouth led by as many as six points in the second stanza on three separate occasions, the last coming with 5:13 to play after junior Alex Mitola drove past the Big Red defense for a layup for a 60-54 advantage. The Cornell comeback began in earnest when Robert Hatter, who led the Big Red with 19 points, knocked down a three-pointer and was fouled. After converting the four-point play, Cornell tied the score at 60 on a fast break layup by Wil Bathurst. With less than three minutes remaining, senior John Golden sank both ends of a one-and-one to allow the Big Green to reclaim the lead, only to have Miller knock down a short jumper in the paint. When Mitola misfired on a three-point shot, Cherry grabbed the rebound and Cornell head coach Bill Courtney called time to set up his offense. He went right back to his best player as Miller got another basket in the paint for a two-point lead with 1:41 to go. When Dartmouth missed another shot from behind the arc, the Big Red had the ball with a minute remaining. But Gill picked a pocket, and even though he could not convert the fast break layup at the other end, Maldunas was there to clean up to tie the score. Cornell held for the last shot, but Miller’s 17-footer at the buzzer only hit the back of the iron, sending Dartmouth to its second overtime game of the year. The Big Green began the game on fire, hitting each of their first four shots in the first three minutes, including two three-pointers by Wright and another by junior Connor Boehm for a quick 110-2 lead. It took Dartmouth another nine and a half minutes to double that total, but not before Cornell clawed back to within two on Hatter’s first of three trifectas on the night. Boehm answered with his second trey for a 22-17 lead with 7:30 until the intermission. Another Hatter three-pointer gave the Big Red their first lead of the game at 25-23. But it looked as if Dartmouth would take a two-point lead into the locker room when Golden canned a three-pointer with nine seconds until the buzzer sounded. But Cherry was fouled as he attempted a three-ball with 0.4 seconds showing. He converted the first two, but missed the third to leave the score knotted at 31 at the break. Cornell finished the night shooting 53.8 percent (28-of-52) and drilled all four field goal attempts in overtime to go with 8-of-12 at the line. Overall, the Big Red made 17-of-26 (.654) at the charity stripe, nearly identical to the 16-of-24 (.667) performance for Dartmouth, although the Big Green had just one free throw attempt after regulation. Both teams hit eight three-pointers, but Cornell was more efficient, hitting 50 percent compared to 33.3 percent for Dartmouth. The Big Green shot 44.4 percent overall (24-of-54), and the battle on the boards was about even with the Big Red owning a 32-31 edge. Wright hit 7-of-11 from the floor overall, including 5-of-8 from long range, to account for his 19 points and is averaging 20 over the last three contests. Both Boehm and junior Tommy Carpenter added 10 points apiece, a career-high for the latter. Cherry produced 15 points for the Big Red, while Galal Cancer chipped in 10. All four of the Cornell players in double figures hit exactly five field goals while attempting fewer than 10. Dartmouth will host Columbia (11-10, 3-4 Ivy) on Saturday at 7 p.m., while Cornell travels to Harvard (16-5, 6-1 Ivy) in a game that will tip at 4 p.m. due to the impending snowstorm.
Notes: Dartmouth had won its previous two overtime games, including a 58-55 victory over Northern Illinois back on Dec. 19 ... Maldunas needs 11 points to become the 26th player in Dartmouth history to reach 1,000.

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