HANOVER, N.H. — Freshmen Gabas Maldunas and John Golden each registered double-doubles to help host Dartmouth, playing its first home game in four weeks, defeat the Elon Phoenix on Saturday afternoon at Leede Arena, 62-54. Maldunas finished the game with a season-high 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Golden dropped in 10 points while snagging a season-best 11 boards as the Big Green (3-7) snapped a four-game skid. Ryley Beaumont and Lucas Troutman each tallied 13 points to lead Elon (7-3).
Elon entered the game with an RPI of 101 and victories over South Carolina and Princeton, the latter coming on the road. But Dartmouth, rated 338 in the RPI, was able to build up a 12-point lead late in the game before fending off every rally the Phoenix could throw its way.
The Big Green took the court for the second half trailing by two, 29-27, and Maldunas playing with three fouls. Thanks to a hard-fought layup by freshman Jvonte Brooks and a long jumper by junior R.J. Griffin, Dartmouth quickly took a two-point lead. Elon responded with a thunderous alley-oop dunk from Sebastian Koch to Troutman before Beaumont drilled a three-pointer to retake the lead.
As was the case several times during the game, Dartmouth was able to hold Elon without a point for a long stretch. This span lasted four-and-a-half minutes as the Big Green posted eight straight points, the first four by Maldunas before a short jumper by Brooks and a reverse layup by senior Jabari Trotter for a 39-34 advantage. When Elon’s Jack Isenbarger rained in a three-pointer, the Green answered back with seven more points, all from Maldunas to extend the lead to nine with 11 minutes to play.
Five minutes later, Dartmouth enjoyed its largest lead of the day at 12 with a little help from freshman Mack McKearney, who dished off to Golden for a three, then found a wide-open Brooks under the basket for an easy deuce and make it a 53-41 game.
Elon cut that deficit in half with an 8-2 spurt, capped by another Troutman dunk with just under three minutes on the clock. Neither team could score for nearly two minutes when John Golden picked off a pass and went the length of the floor for a layup and an eight-point lead at 57-49.
The difference was still eight points when Koch hit his third three-pointer with 38 seconds left. The Big Green left the door open a bit by missing the front ends of a 1-and-1 twice, but the Dartmouth defense was up to the task after each miss. Griffin hit 1-of-2 at the line with 13 seconds to play, and senior David Rufful hit a 6-foot one-hander just before time ran out to finish the scoring.
The Phoenix came out gunning to start the game, draining each of their first five field goals (four from long range) and mixed in a pair of free throws. Dartmouth did not let the game get out of hand, however, canning 4-of-7 from the floor, including a three-pointer by Rufful, leaving the Big Green down seven at the first media break, 16-9. Elon would hit just 11-of-50 field goals (.220) for the rest of the day, and just three more shots in the first half.
Dartmouth gradually worked its way back to even, tying the game for the first time at 20 when McKearney sank a pair of foul shots with 7:46 left before intermission. With barely five minutes to go, Griffin laid in a shot to give the Green their first lead at 24-22. That lead was increased to five before Elon tallied the final seven points of the half, the last two coming off a turnover in the waning seconds, to allow the Phoenix to regain the lead at the break, 29-27.
For the game, Dartmouth shot 43.4 percent (23-of-53), but a solid 50 percent (13-of-26) in the decisive second half. Elon, meanwhile, found the going a little easier from the outside, hitting 9-of-26 (.346) from long range, but just 16-of-55 (.291) overall. The Big Green also had a seven-rebound edge on the glass, 42-35.
Dartmouth takes to the road once again for three games in the state of New York before Christmas, beginning with a game at Colgate on Monday evening at 7 p.m. Elon has one more game before a short break, at San Diego State on Thursday, Dec. 22 at 7:30 p.m. (PST).