HAMDEN, Conn. — Trailing by one point with 2.7 seconds to play, Dartmouth got one last chance to pull off a road win in its season opener, but the inbound play at half court was well defended by Quinnipiac as the Bobcats (1-0) held on to defeat the Big Green (0-1), 78-77. Sophomore Brendan Barry had a career-high 19 points for Dartmouth, while junior Guilien Smith (17) and senior Miles Wright (15) joined him in double figures.
Rich Kelly broke the deadlock for Quinnipiac with 4.3 seconds left by hitting the second of two free throws, and the Big Green quickly brought the ball up to mid-court and called their last timeout. Dartmouth got the ball to Wright in the paint, but the Bobcat defense did not let him breathe as he forced up a shot that Chaise Daniels — who scored a game-high 21 points for the Bobcats — swatted away as the clock expired.
“I thought we played great “together” basketball today,” said head coach David McLaughlin, beginning his second year helming the Big Green. “We didn’t let up when we got down big in the second half and continued to play as a team. We did a terrific job of taking care of the basketball,” (just six turnovers, fewest in three years), “and really stepped our defense in the second half. But you have to give credit Quinnipiac for defending our final play as well as they did.”
That deficit in the second half got as big as 16 early in the stanza before Dartmouth embarked on a 12-0 run, beginning with a three-point play by Wright. After another Wright foul shot, Barry drove to the hoop for the fifth time and completed a three-point play as well. Smith then found freshman Chris Knight under the basket for a two-hand jam, and Barry, who shot 45.5 percent from long range last year, drilled his first of two 3-pointers to suddenly make it a four-point game at 53-49 with more than 13 minutes to play.
A Miles Wright breakaway layup brought Dartmouth within two, 55-53, but the Bobcats continually went to the 6-9 Daniels in the post as he scored the next seven Quinnipiac points to boost its lead back to seven, 62-55.
The Dartmouth deficit reached eight with 6:52 to play, but a Taylor Johnson triple, two Smith free throws and a short shot in the lane by Knight quickly closed the gap to one. After a Washington layup for two of his 18 points, Barry ripped his second trifecta to knot the score at 71 with just over four minutes to go.
But the Big Green could never quite get over the hump. Single free throws by Knight and Johnson knotted the score at 73 before Daniels scored on a putback to put Quinnipiac back on top with 1:12 to play. Smith answered with two more foul shots, only to have Daniels crash the offensive glass again. This time the big man slammed it home for an emphatic 77-75 advantage with 40.5 seconds left.
Dartmouth got the tying score courtesy of the rookie Knight down low with 17 seconds left, but Kelly was tripped driving to the hoop to send him to the line for the fateful free throws.
At the start of the game, the score remained close for most of the first half with the Big Green holding a three-point lead at 21-18 after a layup by sophomore Will Emery with 8:39 on the clock. Quinnipiac relied on some long balls, two by reserve Jacob Rigoni and another by Cameron Young, to gradually boost the lead to as many as 11. Barry provided a pair of free throws with 5.1 seconds left to keep the deficit in single digits at 42-33 at the break.
The Big Green finished the game with a slight edge shooting overall, hitting 28-of-68 (.412) from the floor compared to 24-of-60 (.400) for host Quinnipiac. But the Bobcats knocked down 8-of-20 (.400) from beyond the arc while Dartmouth drained just 5-of-17 (.294). Both teams shot well from the foul line with the Green canning 16-of-19 (.842) and Quinnipiac 22-of-27 (.815).
The difference in the game came on the glass where the Bobcats secured 48 missed shots, 50 percent more than Dartmouth’s 32. Of the eight Quinnipiac players to see action, seven had at least five rebounds with Daniels and Isaiah Washington each grabbing seven. Wright led the Big Green with seven as well.
Dartmouth did an excellent job of taking care of the basketball, committing just six turnovers — its fewest in three years — to go with seven steals, six blocks and 14 assists. Six of those helpers came courtesy of Johnson, who did not have even a single turnover.
Barry finished the game hitting 7-of-10 from the floor and 2-of-3 from downtown, not to mention all three of his free throws.
Next up for the Big Green is their home opener on Tuesday, Nov. 14 when Emerson College comes to town. The game will be streamed live on the Ivy League Network with Brett Franklin and Jill Koclanes calling the action. Audio of the game can also be heard over the airwaves on KOOL 106.7 FM and 96.3 FM, as well as online at koolnh.com.
Notes: The last time Dartmouth turned the ball over six times or less came in another one-point game, a 68-67 victory over IPFW on Nov. 28, 2014. That game was won on a 3-pointer as time expired … the Big Green have not won a season opener that was played on the road since besting Vermont, 86-76, in 1987 … Dartmouth is now 76-41 all-time in season openers and 4-10 against Quinnipiac overall … four freshmen made their collegiate debuts with Aaryn Rai getting the start and contributing five points and a pair of rebounds … Knight had the most productive debut, scoring nine points on 4-of-8 shooting with five rebounds and four blocks.