HANOVER, N.H. — Dyami Starks scored 35 points for the second straight game to lead the visiting Bryant Bulldogs past Dartmouth on Wednesday night at Leede Arena, 87-77. Bryant (1-1) shot a sizzling 59.2 percent (29-for-49) for the game to keep the Big Green (1-1) at bay.
Dartmouth was led by sophomore Alex Mitola with 15 points, while junior Gabas Maldunas contributed a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Tyler Melville also finished in double figures with 13 to go along with four assists to match sophomore Brandon McDonnell for team-high honors.
The Big Green shot a respectable 47.5 percent (29-of-61) from the floor on the night, including 40.9 percent (9-of-22) from long range. But missed opportunities at the free throw proved costly as they managed to convert just 10-of-22 (.455) foul shots. Bryant, meanwhile, made the most of its trips to the charity stripe, knocking down 23-of-28 (.821). Both teams snared 31 rebounds, though Dartmouth had 14 at the offensive end compared to six for the visitors.
After the two sides traded buckets to open the game, the Bulldogs scored 16 of the next 18 points for an 18-4 lead less than seven minutes into the game. Bryant forward Alex Francis, who finished the night with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, provided the first basket during the run, and finished it off with five straight points.
Sophomore Connor Boehm finally ended the spurt with a jumper from the left elbow. But the Green were still trailing by 14 at 23-9 when Boehm started a 14-3 run with a triple from the top of the key. It took three minutes for that run to take off as neither side could add to its total following Boehm’s three until Melville drained a three-pointer. Starks answered with a trey of his own, but a Melville layup sandwiched between a pair of Mitola trifectas suddenly brought Dartmouth within three at 26-23 with 6:20 remaining in the half.
Not surprisingly, Starks was the one who stemmed the tide for the Bulldogs with one another of his five three-pointers on the night. Again Mitola bombed a shot from downtown, but try as they might, the Big Green could simply not get any closer than three points. Bryant managed to increase its lead to seven by halftime at 39-32 when Joe O’Shea made it to the rim for a layup.
No less than 18 of Bryan’s 39 first-half points came in the paint, compared to six for Dartmouth. A big reason for that disparity was the absence of Maldunas on the court, as he picked up two fouls early in the game and played just five minutes in the opening stanza. Starks led all players at the intermission with 19 points, while Mitola had nine for the Green with his trio of triples.
For the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Dartmouth deficit never was less than four nor greater than eight as the two sides battled back and forth. The Big Green looked to gain some momentum when McDonnell fought for an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and got the ball to junior John Golden, who drove the lane and brought the crowd to its feet with a authoritative two-hand slam.
Bryant came right back on a Maynard three-pointer, but Golden again got the fans excited with a three of his own from the left wing, keeping the Green within five. For the next eight minutes, however, the Bulldogs made all nine field goal attempts and 10-of-11 at the line, eventually opening up a 21-points lead at 81-60 with three-and-a-half minutes left.
Although the Big Green outscored the Bulldogs down the stretch, 17-6, including a three-pointer by freshman Eli Harrison making his collegiate debut, it was too little too late.
Both Mitola and Maldunas were 6-of-9 from the floor, and the former canned three triples in five attempts. All 12 Dartmouth players to see time scored at least one point.
After connecting on 13-of-22 against Gonzaga in the Bulldogs’ opener, Starks continued to light it up by knocking down 10-of-18 overall, 5-of-8 on threes, and 10-of-12 at the line to make up his 35 points. Nearly all of Bryant’s scoring came from its first starters as the bench contributed just six points, five by Ellis Williams. Francis led Bryant with eight rebounds.
Dartmouth will finish its season-opening three-game homestand on Saturday afternoon when UMass Lowell (0-2) come to Hanover for a tipoff at 4 p.m. The Bulldogs will host Vermont (1-1) in their home opener on Saturday as well, beginning at 7 p.m.