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Big Green Roll Past Maine, 81-56

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By Mark Washburn
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BANGOR, Maine — Sophomore Alex Mitola led four Dartmouth players in double figures with 19 points as the Big Green rolled to an 81-56 victory over host Maine on Sunday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Center. The 25-point spread is the largest margin of victory for Dartmouth (3-1) against a Division I program in over 16 years, while Maine lost its fourth straight game to fall to 1-5 on the season.

Mitola produced his season-high 19 points by hitting 6-of-10 field goals, including a pair of three-pointers, and 5-of-6 free throws. Joining him in double figures were sophomore Connor Boehm (15), sophomore Kevin Crescenzi (14) and junior John Golden (12). Boehm and Crescenzi combined to knock down 13 of their 18 field goal attempts as the Big Green shot 48.4 percent (30-of-62) from the floor as a team.

Although Dartmouth dominated the final statistics, it was Maine that began the game in control. The Black Bears opened up a 23-17 lead more after more than 13 minutes of action, and held a 19-9 advantage on the boards. But when sophomore Matt Rennie — on the floor due to foul trouble to starting center Gabas Maldunas — grabbed an offensive rebound and finished off a three-point play, the Big Green found the spark they needed. After Boehm converted 1-of-2 at the line, Crescenzi ripped a three-pointer to give Dartmouth its first lead of the afternoon at 24-23.

Maine responded with a bucket, but Golden gave the Green the lead for good with a pair of foul shots with little more than four minutes left in the half. Crescenzi then came up with a steal and coasted to a fastbreak layup, and Mitola popped a three for a sudden six-point lead. When the buzzer sounded to conclude the half, Dartmouth had outscored the Black Bears, 22-7, over the final six and a half minutes and owned a 39-30 lead.

Crescenzi led the Big Green at the break with nine points off the bench while Mitola had eight and Boehm seven. Dartmouth also hauled in eight of the last 10 rebounds of the opening stanza to narrow the gap on the glass to 21-17.

Zarko Valjarevic, who finished the game with 17 points for Maine, led all players at the intermission with 10, while Till Gloger had six rebounds.

In the second half, Garet Beal provided a short jumper for the Black Bears before Dartmouth ran off the next eight points to open up a 15-point lead. Senior Tyler Melville started the spurt with a pair of free throws, and Golden had his driving layup along the baseline sandwiched between a pair of reverse layups by Boehm. The Big Green lead would not fall below 12 points the rest of the way.

Twice Crescenzi extended the advantage to 16 points, first with a mid-range jumper, then with a three-pointer, before Mitola hit two 15-footers to build a 20-point bulge at 61-41 with 8:39 to play.

Maine immediately went on a quick 7-0 run with Valjarevic providing five of those points. Dartmouth head coach Paul Cormier called a timeout to compose his team, and within a couple of minutes Boehm and Mitola hit shots in the lane to boost the lead back to 17 at 67-50. When Mitola followed a Boehm layup with one of his own for a 24-point lead with 1:30 to go, Cormier sent in freshmen Wesley Dickinson and Eli Harrison, both of whom scored in the final 90 seconds.

Dartmouth continued to dominate the boards in the second half, allowing the Black Bears to snare just nine, as it owned a 37-30 edge on the glass overall. Maldunas, the Ivy League rebounding leader, had a game-high nine while Boehm snatched seven. Mitola matched his career high with six assists, while Rennie set personal marks with five points, six rebounds and 13 minutes.

The Big Green took care of the ball, turning it over just seven times while forcing 13, eight via the steal. Dartmouth held Maine to 20-of-49 (.408) shooting on the afternoon and converted 17-of-23 (.739) at the charity stripe, compared to 12-of-19 (.632) for the Black Bears.

Dartmouth will continue its four-game road trip on Thursday when it travels to DeKalb, Ill., to take on Northern Illinois (2-4) for the first of three games in the Midwest. The game will tip off at 8 p.m. (EST). Up next for Maine is a contest on Dec. 4 at NJIT, a team that defeated the Black Bears by six on Nov. 19, 88-82.

Notes: The last win by at least 25 points over a D-I opponent came on Valentine’s Day in 1997 at Columbia, 82-47 ... Dartmouth is 3-1 to start a season for the first time since the 1996-97 squad matched that start en route to an 18-8 season overall and 10-4 mark in the Ivy League.