HANOVER, N.H. — The Dartmouth men’s basketball team enjoyed a five-point lead with 8:43 to play, only to have visiting Harvard finish the game on a 17-2 run to escape Leede Arena with a 75-65 victory over the Big Green on Saturday afternoon. The Crimson (9-5, 1-0 Ivy) got 22 points from freshman point guard Siyani Chambers and 19 more from Wesley Saunders while shooting 62.8 percent (27-of-43) for the game to win the Ivy League opener for both teams.
Dartmouth (3-11, 0-1 Ivy) fell behind by as many as 14 during the opening half, then stormed back to take a one-point lead into the locker room, 43-42. Four Big Green players scored in double figures for the game with freshmen Connor Boehm and Alex Mitola leading the way with 11 points each, and sophomore Jvonte Brooks and Gabas Maldunas providing an even 10.
After the Big Green took an early 3-0 lead, Laurent Rivard popped a pair of three-pointer to give Harvard its first lead at 8-5. Next time down the floor, the Crimson misfired on a three-pointer, then knocked down 12 of their next 13 field goal attempts to build a 36-22 advantage. Steve Moundou-Missi canned all five of his shots during the streak, plus added a free throw to account for his 11 first-half points.
In danger of the game getting out of hand, Dartmouth held serve for the next few minutes and trailed by 13, 39-26, with 5:08 remaining in the half. The Big Green proceeded to drill seven of their final eight field goals before the buzzer sounded, including three-pointers from Boehm, freshman Kevin Crescenzi and Mitola, the last of which put Dartmouth back on top, 41-39.
Rivard answered with his fourth three-pointer of the half in four attempts, but a Crescenzi jumper allowed the Big Green to take the slim one-point lead at the break.
Both teams shot lights out for the first 20 minutes with Harvard at 65.2 percent (15-of-23) and Dartmouth at 54.8 percent (17-of-31). Each side had six three-pointers and eight turnovers, but the difference came on the glass where the Green enjoyed a 17-9 advantage that led to them outscoring Harvard in second-chance points, 17-5. Seven different players had at least five points for Dartmouth, led by Mitola and Maldunas with eight apiece.
The Big Green continued their strong play at the outset of the second half. When Mitola rained in his third trey of the game and Brooks followed with a fall-away jumper, Dartmouth had its largest lead with the score 50-45. Harvard answered with a fastbreak layup by Saunders sandwiched between a three-pointer and two free throws by Chambers for a seven-point spurt and two-point Crimson edge.
Freshman Tommy Carpenter knotted the score for the fifth time with a nifty layup behind his head, and after Moundou-Missi slammed one home, Golden raced down the floor and split two defenders with a lefty layup on the break. Boehm followed with a layup as well, putting the Green back on top.
Dartmouth once again opened up a five-point lead at 63-58 with 8:43 to play, but the Crimson tide came in as they scored 17 of the final 19 points, all but two of which came from either Saunders or Chambers. Harvard started the run with four straight buckets, including a three-point play by Chambers that tied the game at 63.
When Saunders scored a basket from under the hoop with 3:28 to play, the Crimson sported a 69-63 lead. Brooks finally ended the scoring drought of nearly six minutes with a pair of free throws, but that was all the Green could muster as Harvard registered the final six points of the game, including another Moundou-Missi jam for the exclamation point.
While Dartmouth finished the game with the edge on the boards, 28-25, the Crimson made up ground in the second half. Harvard went to the free throw line 24 times, compared to just eight for the Green (all by Brooks), yet converted just 14 (.583) to Dartmouth’s six (.750), which nearly comprised the difference in the score.
The nine Big Green players that saw time in the game all had at least one field goal with Boehm and Maldunas both hitting 5-of-10. Mitola hit three of Dartmouth’s seven trifectas, Maldunas recorded a game-high six rebounds and Boehm chipped in a season-best four assists. As a team, Dartmouth shot a season-high 45.6 percent (26-of-57), but just 34.6 percent (9-of-26) after the break.
Saunders rarely missed from the floor, going 8-of-9, but was just 3-of-6 at the foul line for his 19 points. Chambers went 6-of-11 while knocking down all three of his long balls, plus contributed 7-of-9 free throws. The two Crimson players also dished out six assists apiece.
Dartmouth will finish up a four-game homestand on Thursday at 7 p.m. with its final non-conference game of the year when Colby-Sawyer travels to Hanover from just down the road in New London, N.H. Harvard finishes up its schedule outside of the Ivy League next Saturday at Memphis at 12:30 p.m. (EST).
Notes: Incoming Dartmouth President, Philip Hanlon ’77, and his wife, Gail Gentes, were introduced during halftime. Hanlon will begin his term as the 18th president on July 1 ... Harvard has won the last seven games in the series, with the last Big Green win coming in Cambridge in 2009 ... Dartmouth still leads the all-time series with the Crimson, 94-81 ... the two teams will finish their season series in two weeks at Harvard’s Lavietes Pavilion.