Sunday, March 1, 2015

GAME RECAP: Dartmouth 56 Cornell 45

ITHACA, N.Y. -- In a season where Cornell's defense could be relied on virtually every night, Dartmouth cracked the code for one night and topped the Big Red 56-45 on Saturday evening at Newman Arena, spoiling Senior Day ceremonies for a group whose perseverance showed despite the tough loss.

Less than 24 hours after pulling an upset of first place Harvard on national television, the Big Red dug itself a 20-point hole it could never get out of. A night after shooting better than 60 percent in a win at Columbia, Dartmouth connected on 49 percent of its shots from the floor overall and 47 percent from the 3-point arc to pick up the win.

Robert Hatter scored 23 points and Shonn Miller, playing his final game in front of the Newman Nation fans, had 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Big Red went on a 14-2 run to get back within eight and stole the ensuing inbounds pass, but a turnover and layup on the other end put it back to double figures and effectively ended the comeback attempt. The furious comeback over four minutes to give the Big Red a final chance was again indicitive of what the group of six seniors brought everyday for four seasons.

Dartmouth's Alex Mitola and Malik Gill each had 14 points and Gabas Maldunas notched 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots in the win. The Big Green dominated the glass, outrebounding the Big Red 34-19 to overcome 20 turnovers.

ITHACA, N.Y. — Juniors Alex Mitola and Malik Gill each scored 14 points to lead Dartmouth to a season-long third-straight victory in a 56-45 win at Cornell, spoiling the Big Red’s Senior Night. Senior Gabas Maldunas added 13 more to go with nine rebounds and four blocks to help the Big Green (12-14, 5-7 Ivy) fend off a furious late rally and end an 11-game skid at Newman Arena.

Robert Hatter scored more than half of the 45 points for Cornell (13-15, 5-7 Ivy) by hitting 9-of-18 shots with three three-pointers for 23 on the night. Shonn Miller added a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards, but the rest of the team combined to shoot 3-of-16 (.188) on the night as the Big Red were held to 34.8 percent from the floor as a team.

The two teams were locked in a defensive struggle through the first 10 minutes of the game with most of the offense being provided by Maldunas and Hatter, but when Miller sank a jumper for a 12-10 lead with 10:22 left in the half, Dartmouth head coach Paul Cormier quickly called a timeout. Whatever he said did wonders for the Big Green defense as it held Cornell without a field goal for the rest of the half while the offense found its stroke from long distance to post a 16-2 run over the final 10 minutes of the half.

The run began in earnest when junior Connor Boehm hit a three-pointer from just to the right of the top of the key with 6:29 left. The Big Green drained four more triples before the buzzer sounded — two from Gill, and one from Mitola and freshman Miles Wright each — while Cornell missed seven field goals, turned the ball over seven times and converted just 2-of-4 free throws during that time. With the 26-14 lead at the intermission, Dartmouth had allowed its fewest points in any half this season.

The lead reached 14 points on three occasions early in the second half, but the second time Devin Cherry drilled a three-pointer for Cornell for its first field goal in over 13 minutes. Two minutes later, Hatter hit a trifecta of his own, leaving Dartmouth with a 33-22 lead.

The Big Green embarked on an 11-2 run at that point, fueled by triples by Wright and Mitola, and capped by a Maldunas three-point play, boosting the lead to an even 20 at 44-24 with 9:29 left.

Cornell still trailed by 20 with seven minutes remaining when it began a furious rally to try and get back in the game. Having recorded just eight field goals in the first 33 minutes of action, the Big Red hit their next six shots — four by Hatter and two more by Miller. After the first five — three of which came off of Dartmouth’s season-high 20 turnovers — Gill stole the ball and fed senior John Golden for a layup to quiet the suddenly raucous crowd of 2,659.

Gill answered the last of Hatter’s four buckets in the run by driving to the rim and scoring on a layup to boost the Big Green lead back to 10 at 51-41 with 3:47 to play. A pair of turnovers gave Cornell chances to cut even further into the lead, but Miller could only convert 2-of-4 free throws before Dartmouth righted the ship and put the game away by knocking down 5-of-6 foul shots in the last 1:35.

The Big Green finished the game shooting 48.6 percent (17-of-35) from the floor and nearly as well from long range at 46.7 percent (7-of-15) while sinking 15-of-22 (.682) at the foul line.

In addition to holding the Big Red to just 34.8 percent (16-of-46) shooting, the Dartmouth defense allowed just 6-of-20 to fall through from behind the arc. Cornell took just 10 shots at the charity stripe as Dartmouth committed just 11 fouls, draining seven.

Gill was an efficient 4-of-6 from the floor with his two three-pointers and knocked down all four of his free throw attempts to post 14 points for a second straight night. Mitola was 4-of-10 overall and 2-of-6 from three-point range, plus hit 4-of-6 at the line for his 14.

Dartmouth will wrap up the 2014-15 campaign next weekend at home in Leede Arena when it hosts Brown (13-16, 4-8 Ivy) on Friday and the Ivy League co-leader Yale (21-8, 10-2 Ivy) on Saturday. Both games tip off at 7 p.m. and will be streamed live via Big Green Insider on the Ivy League Digital Network.

Notes: Dartmouth is 10-1 when holding an opponent to under 40 percent field goal shooting … the last three-game winning streak for the Big Green came in the final three games of the 2013-14 season … Dartmouth is in a three-way tie for fourth place in the league standings with Columbia and Cornell, the two teams it beat this weekend … the last Big Green victory at Newman Arena was a 70-53 triumph on March 1, 2003, the last of five straight wins at the venue … the 35 field goal attempts were a season-low for the Big Green.


Anonymous said...

During the first half of the Harvard game, the CBS announcing crew openly criticized Cornell's YMCA offense that encourages guys who can't shoot to shot jump shots. During his brief half time interview, Courtney said that his team was executing the offensive game plan pretty well.

That says it all.

Harvard shot 20% from the field and missed wide open shot after shot. Cornell won by 8, and somehow beating Harvard at home for the first time in 5 years (sadly) became Cornell's championship.

The Dartmouth loss was so predictable.

Andy Noel had promised to hire someone in Donahue's mold.

Five consecutive senior classes of unrealized potential.

Five consecutive senior classes whose basketball experience at Cornell did not resemble anything they expected.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Cornell's offense is absolutely terrible. So, I have no argument with your criticism. But the Andy Noel comment is not true.

Andy did not promise a hire similar to Donahue.

Old Grad said...

Was this the same team I saw Friday night? Turnovers, out rebounded, poor shots, bad coaching decisions. And what is with many of the big men being injured? Sad that this was the last home game for the Seniors. I had hoped they would go out in style. Hoping for a new coach next year.

Anonymous said...

The fact that Andy Noel said in that video that Courtney is "different than Steve Donahue" does not prove that he did not make that promise to players, recruits and alumni.

In fact, Noel did tell players, recruits and alumni that he would hire a coach in the mold of Donahue.

He also told players, recruits and alumni that the Donahue replacement was "the most important hire of my career".

Those are facts.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Donahue, I shudder to think what he could do with players of this caliber. His offensive and defensive strategies combined with their athleticism would be downright scary. CBB, do you expect Courtney to return next year?