Men’s basketball loses tight game to Penn, falls to Princeton
By Lillian Maguire, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, February 27, 2012
In another exhilaratingly close ending, the Dartmouth men’s basketball teamlost to the University of Pennsylvania again Friday night in Leede Arena, this time by a score of 57-54. Just two weeks ago, the Quakers (17-11, 9-2 Ivy) handed Dartmouth (5-23, 1-11 Ivy) another heartbreaking three-point defeat with a final buzzer beater by Penn’s Zack Rosen. He posed a problem for the Big Green on Friday night as well, scoring 27 points for Penn, with 16 in the last seven minutes alone to ice the game.
The Big Green faced Princeton University on Saturday in its last home game of the season but couldn’t manage to keep up with the Tigers’ blazing offense. Princeton (16-11, 7-4 Ivy) clipped the nets at 65.4 percent and handed Dartmouth an 85-61 loss. Princeton also shot 12-of-17 (.706) from behind the arc, while Dartmouth, shooting just 37.3 percent overall, couldn’t keep up.
Before the game, there was a small ceremony that included flowers and hugs from visiting parents for the three seniors on the team. Captain David Rufful ’12, Jabari Trotter ’12 and Kirk Crecco ’12 were all in the starting lineup for their final game at Leede Arena.
On Friday against Penn, the lead switched hands nine times. John Golden ’15 led the Big Green with 13 points and entertained the crowd with a spectacular dunk off of a fast break and an impressive three-for-three three-point tally.
Dartmouth started the second half trailing by seven, but Penn stretched it to nine with a basket to start the period.
Brooks said the Big Green let Penn take control of the game in the first half.
“We felt it was our own fault we were down that much, so we just tried to buckle down on defense and chip away to get back into the game,” he said.
The Dartmouth defense held the Quakers scoreless for nearly six minutes while the offense tallied 10 consecutive points.
A backdoor layup by Trotter finally put the Big Green up, 30-29. However, three Dartmouth turnovers in less than a minute allowed Penn to grab seven points and some room to breathe.
After an eight-point run by the Quakers put them up, 46-39, the Big Green began to steadily fight its way back. Tyler Melville ’14 started the comeback with a 12-footer on the baseline, followed by a free throw from Gabas Maldunas ’15. Rosen answered with another basket, keeping Dartmouth down 48-42 with 3:42 on the clock.
The Big Green went to the paint with a shot by Maldunas followed by two free throws from Melville from a foul by Rosen. Rosen continued to attack, drove the ball to the net and drew a foul on the way, which he cashed in at the charity stripe. His work put Penn back up by five, 51-46, with 2:09 remaining.
Jvonte Brooks ’15 said that Dartmouth anticipated Rosen’s presence as an offensive threat.
“We tried to take Rosen out of the scoring zone, or at least slow him up a bit because he is really good in the pick and roll situation,” he said. “He’s just a great player in general, and probably will end up the Player of the Year.”
Dartmouth again cut to the paint in response, and Brooks was fouled on his way to the basket and managed to sink one of his two baskets.
Dartmouth uncharacteristically struggled at the free throw line, converting just 15 of 28 (.536) in the first half and only nine of 20 (.450) in the second. Entering the game, the Big Green was shooting 70.9 percent from the line on the season.
With 1:13 to play, Golden converted a miss by Rosen into a crisp three-pointer to bring Dartmouth within one point of Penn, 51-50.
“The energy went to another level,” Brooks said. “We had confidence because we knew we competed with them in our first game, so even though we went down, we never lost faith that we should be in the game.”
Rosen retaliated with a 10-footer at 40 seconds left, but Rufful silenced his attempts with a floater in the paint to keep the difference at one.
With only 15 seconds remaining, R.J. Griffin ’13 threw up three-point attempt that hit the rim, but Brooks snagged the rebound and put it through the hoop while drawing a foul. His free throw to tie the game was no good, and Penn rebounded the ball as a final timeout was called.
As time ran down, Rosen was fouled and put away two freethrows, giving Penn a three-point lead, 57-54. Griffin was able to get off one last three-point attempt at the buzzer, but it was not enough to prevent Penn’s victory.
On Saturday night, Dartmouth lost to the Tigers despite another impressive performance by Golden, who put up a season-high 21 points. Melville and Maldunas contributed 10 points each.
Brooks said Princeton took advantage of Dartmouth’s lax defense.
“We just came out flat — it was just an off night in all aspects,” he said. “We didn’t play good defense, and Princeton made us pay. You can’t have an off night on the defensive side of the court against a team as good as Princeton.”
Dartmouth finishes its season on the road next weekend at Cornell University on Friday and Columbia University on Saturday.