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Too Many Crusader Threes Lead to 67-56 Defeat

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Jvonte Brooks scored a season-high 16 points at Holy Cross.     By Mark Washburn
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WORCESTER, Mass. — Dartmouth equaled its season high in shooting percentage (.449), but host Holy Cross drilled 10-of-19 three-pointers at the Hart Center on Saturday afternoon to hand the Big Green their second straight defeat, 67-56. Justin Burrell tallied a game-high 19 points and Phil Beans added 18 as the duo combined to shoot 7-of-9 from behind the arc to give the Crusaders (6-4) their first win streak of the year. Sophomore Jvonte Brooks scored a season-high 16 points while freshman Alex Mitola provided 15 for Dartmouth (2-5).

Holy Cross never trailed in the game and always kept the Big Green at arm’s length with at least a four-point lead after the first two-and-a-half minutes. Whenever Dartmouth threatened to make it a one-possession game, the Crusaders had an answer, usually with a three-pointer. Of the eight times the Green closed the gap to four or five points, Holy Cross hit the trifecta six times.

Dartmouth did not help itself at the free throw line, converting just 7-of-16 (.438) on the day. The Crusaders, meanwhile, sank 15-of-19 at the stripe, all coming in the second half to help fend off every Big Green surge.

Holy Cross came out of the gate firing, taking a 13-4 lead in the first five minutes with three-pointers from Burrell, Jordan Stevens and Beans. After extending that lead to 10 at 18-8, however, the Crusaders were held scoreless for nearly seven minutes. But Dartmouth managed to score just six points in that stretch, half coming on the team’s lone triple of the half by sophomore John Golden.

Burrell ended the Holy Cross drought with another three-pointer, and the difference fluctuated between five and eight points until the Big Green held for the final shot, trailing 28-22. But Eric Obeysekere stole the ball and sent it ahead to Cullen Hamilton who threw up a 30-footer that found its way through the hoop at the buzzer to give the Crusaders a nine-point lead at the intermission.

Holy Cross hit half (7-of-14) of its three-point shots in the opening stanza to maintain its lead.

Dartmouth came out of the locker room with a well-designed back-door feed from sophomore Gabas Maldunas to Golden for an easy bucket, but the Crusaders scored the next six points and soon enjoyed their largest lead of the game at 14 points, 40-26.

Brooks began an 8-0 spurt with a three-point play, which was followed up by Mitola hitting a jumper, then a three-pointer to close the gap to six. After Holy Cross built the lead back to double figures, the Big Green scored on three straight layups — two by Maldunas and another by Brooks — to climb back within four points at 47-43 with eight minutes to play.

Again it was Burrell with the three-point response, yet Brooks came right back with another layup to make it a five-point game. The two teams traded turnovers before Beans drilled a trey, which was answered by Mitola with a three-ball of his own. For once the Crusaders did not reply with a triple, but Dave Dudzinski did score on a layup. Brooks then hit 1-of-2 foul shots before Holy Cross hit 10 of its next 11 free throws to seal the victory.

Brooks was 7-of-10 from the floor but just 2-of-6 at the foul line to account for his 16 points to go along with six rebounds. Mitola was 5-of-12 overall and 3-of-8 from long range, and Maldunas led the Big Green with seven boards and three assists.

Burrell followed up a 30-point effort against Sacred Heart by going 5-of-8 from the field and a perfect 3-of-3 on three-pointers and 6-of-6 on free throws for his 19 points while dishing out four assists. Beans was just about as accurate at 6-of-9 overall and 4-of-6 from downtown, plus 2-of-2 at the line. Dudzinski and Hamilton both chipped in 10 points, and Obeysekere hauled in six of the team’s 30 rebounds to lead the squad.

Dartmouth continues its eight-game road trip on Wednesday evening in Burlington, Vt., to play the Vermont Catamounts at 7 p.m. Holy Cross returns to the road after a 10-day break for exams, playing on Dec. 18 at San Francisco at 10 p.m. (EST).