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Courtesy: Doug Austin

Men Falter in Second Half at Harvard, 61-45

Courtesy: Dartmouth
Release: 01/12/2014
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Dartmouth junior center Gabas Maldunas poured in a season-high 23 points, but Harvard’s Brandyn Curry scored all 17 of his points in the second half to lift the Crimson to a 61-45 victory at Lavietes Pavilion on Saturday afternoon. Harvard improved to 14-2 on the season in the Ivy League opener for both teams, while the visiting Big Green dropped their third straight, evening their record at 7-7.

Harvard, playing without leading scorer Wesley Saunders, was led by Curry, who hit 7-of-13 field goals with a three-pointer, grabbed a team-high six rebounds and dished out a game-high six assists. Forward Steve Moundou-Missi added 16 as he went a perfect 8-of-8 at the foul line.

Maldunas was 9-of-13 from the floor and 5-of-6 at the line in providing more than half of Dartmouth’s 45 points on the afternoon. Like Curry, he led the Big Green in rebounds (6) and assists (3). The Crimson defense held Dartmouth to a mere six field goals in the second half and 37.8 percent shooting for the game, including a season-low two three-pointers. The Big Green also failed to crack 50 points for the first time this season.

Trailing by just three at the break, 30-27, Dartmouth quickly knotted the score when Maldunas sank a free throw and sophomore Connor Boehm knocked down a baseline jumper less than a minute into the stanza. But Harvard never allowed the Green to take the lead even once, rattling off 16 of the next 18 points to take control of the game.

The Crimson got three consecutive layups, two by Curry and another by Steve Moundou-Missi, to reclaim the lead at 36-30. Maldunas barely stemmed the tide with a pair of free throws, which were matched by Curry, who followed that up with another bucket. After Moundou-Missi sank two foul shots, Siyani Chambers popped a long jumper and Agunwa Okolie stole a Big Green pass and went down the court for the slam and a 46-32 lead.

Maldunas put an end to the run with a basket in the paint — the first Dartmouth field goal in eight minutes — but the damage was done. The Big Green only once came within even 11 points at 52-41 after a three-pointer by sophomore Alex Mitola with 5:25 to play. Curry answered with a triple of his own, and the two teams traded two points for the remainder of the game.

Harvard jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead to begin the game on a Moundou-Missi dunk and a Chambers three-pointer while Dartmouth turned the ball over on each of its first three possessions. Boehm put the Big Green on the board with two free throws, and following a short Moundou-Missi jumper, Maldunas got going with a layup. Maldunas scored 10 of the first 16 Big Green points of the day, bringing his squad within two with 7:37 left in the first half.

Gradually the Crimson built their lead to nine at 29-20 with barely two minutes until the intermission when freshman Mike Fleming rained in the first Dartmouth triple. Mitola dropped in a 16-footer to cut the deficit to four, and after Harvard’s Kyle Casey hit on 1-of-2 free throws, Maldunas threw up an 18-footer from the right at the buzzer that found the bottom of the net to make it a three-point game, 30-27.

Maldunas had 14 points at the break, which was countered by Moundou-Missi’s 10 and Evan Cummins off the bench with eight. The Big Green outshot Harvard in the first half, 44 percent compared to 39.1 percent, but the Crimson had the advantage at the charity stripe, converting 11-of-16 foul shots to just 4-of-4 for Dartmouth.

By the end of the game, Harvard had turned the tables thanks to 11-of-20 (.550) shooting in the second stanza to finish the day at 44.4 percent (20-of-45). Although the Big Green won the battle of the boards, 32-25, their season-high 18 turnovers undermined their efforts to pull off the upset on the road.

The Dartmouth defense did a fine job in bottling up Chambers, who had just seven points, about five below his season average, and Harvard’s all-time three-point shooter in Laurent Rivard, who failed to score.

Next up for the Big Green is their final non-conference game of the season at St. John’s against the Red Storm, which will be televised by Fox Sports 1, on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. Harvard has to wait 10 days to play again when it travels to Florida Atlantic on Jan. 21 for a 7 p.m. tip.
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