HANOVER, N.H. — A 10-0 run early in the first half set the tone for the Dartmouth men’s basketball team as the Big Green cruised to a 76-46 victory over visiting Jacksonville State on Saturday afternoon at Leede Arena. Sophomore Alex Mitola led four players in double figures with 16 points for Dartmouth (4-4), which snapped a three-game losing streak and enjoyed its first 30-point win over a Division I team in over 16 years.
Mitola knocked down four three-pointers against the Gamecocks (4-8) and was 5-of-9 from the floor in scoring his 16 points. Junior wing John Golden added a season-high 14 points with six rebounds and three assists, while senior Tyler Melville popped a pair of treys in producing 12 points. Sophomore forward Brandon McDonnell came off the bench to chip in a career-best 12 points as well, while junior Gabas Maldunas did a little bit of everything with eight points, 11 rebounds, five assists and five blocks.
Dartmouth completely owned the glass, doubling JSU’s total on the afternoon, 46-23.
Jacksonville State, making its first trip ever to Hanover, never warmed to the frigid climate outside, shooting just 30.4 percent (17-of-56) for the game and 5-of-18 (.278) from three-point range. Even its foul shooting suffered at 46.7 percent (7-of-15). Reserve forward Nick Cook came off the bench to lead JSU with eight points.
The two teams were knotted at 10 early in the game when the Big Green ripped off 10 straight points. McDonnell provided half of those points with a three-point play and a 10-foot baseline jumper, while Mitola drained the first of his three-pointers and Golden capped the run with a steal and a fastbreak layup.
Cook responded with a layup for the Gamecocks with just under 10 minutes left in the half, but Golden came right back with a three-pointer that just beat the shot clock. Again Cook laid one in, bringing JSU within nine at 23-14. It would be the last time the difference was in single digits.
Mitola hit a three-pointer to boost the lead to 12 before sophomore Connor Boehm hit a 15-footer from the left wing. Following a Gamecock free throw, Mitola struck again from the outside with 5:09 left in the half. Although the Big Green did not convert another field goal the rest of the half, they did sink all six of their free throws and their defense yielded just one more bucket — again by Cook — to take a 37-17 lead into the locker room.
Dartmouth finished the first 20 minutes hitting 12-of-25 field goals (.480) and 6-of-13 (.462) from long range, while its defense limited the Gamecocks to a mere 6-of-26 (.231) from the floor and 1-of-8 (.125) from downtown.
In the second half, the Big Green never gave JSU a chance to rally, maintaining at least a 20-point lead for the entire stanza. Dartmouth scored seven of the first nine points of the half, culminating with Mitola’s final triple, leading the Gamecocks to call a timeout. Although Jamal Hunter hit a shot in the lane for Jacksonville State out of the timeout, it didn’t slow the Big Green who built up its lead to 29 barely two minutes later as Maldunas drove through the lane and laid one up and in.
The Gamecocks managed to get back within 22 when Michael Louder took a feed from D.J. Felder and slammed it home with 7:22 to play. Maldunas and Boehm answered back with consecutive baskets, however, and Dartmouth worked the clock for the final six minutes. The exclamation point on the victory came when sophomore Tommy Carpenter stole the ball with 30 seconds left and fed McDonnell for an emphatic two-hand slam. Those were the final two points of the game and gave Dartmouth its only 30-point lead of the night.
In the second half, the Big Green never let up, shooting a blistering 60.9 percent (14-of-23) from the floor, which helped them dominate the boards by a three-to-one margin (24-8).
Dartmouth plays again at in-state rival New Hampshire in Durham on Wednesday evening, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m. Jacksonville State returns home to square off against Central Michigan on Tuesday night at 7:45 p.m. (CST).
Notes: The last time Dartmouth beat a D-I opponent by at least 30 was on Valentine’s Day in 1997 at Columbia, 82-47 … the last home victory by 30 or more points was nearly 20 years ago — Feb. 5, 1994 against Yale by a nearly identical score, 76-45.