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Second Half Does In Big Green at St. John's, 69-55

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John Golden scored a team-high 13 points at St. John's.     By Doug Austin
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QUEENS, N.Y. — Both Dartmouth and host St. John’s had more success hitting shots from long range, but the Red Storm managed to convert 17-of-22 free throws to send the Big Green to their fourth straight defeat, 69-55. Phil Greene IV dropped 4 three-pointers through the hoop en route to scoring a game-high 16 points for St. John’s (10-8), snapping its five-game skid.

For Dartmouth (7-8), junior John Golden was the lone player in double figures with 13 points, while leading scorer Gabas Maldunas was held to six. As a team, the Big Green drained 9-of-15 shots (.600) behind the arc, but inside was another story as they misfired on 32 of 43 two-point attempts in part due to 11 Red Storm blocks.

St. John’s proved nearly as adept outside the arc, however, raining in half of its 16 attempts with Greene going 4-for-5 himself. JaKarr Sampson was the only other player to top 10 points on the night by going 6-of-12 from the floor with one free throw in scoring 13. While the Red Storm struggles inside the arc weren’t as pronounced as Dartmouth’s, they only shot 35 percent (14-of-40) on two-point attempts.

The Big Green gave St. John’s all it could handle in the first half as their outside shooters drained 6-of-8 from beyond the arc. Golden put Dartmouth on the board first with a three-pointer, but the Red Storm answered with seven straight points, capped by a Greene trifecta. Maldunas ended the spurt with a layup, but Greene hit another triple for St. John’s for an early 10-5 lead.

Once 10 minutes had elapsed, the Red Storm owned an eight-point advantage, 17-9, only to see Maldunas lay in another bucket. That began a 12-3 surge for the Big Green as native New Yorker Malik Gill splashed a pair of three-pointers. Golden sank two free throws  and Boehm dropped in a basket on a pass that threaded the needle from Gill as well during the run.

Now trailing by one at 21-20, St. John’s got a pair of foul shots by Jamaal Branch to reclaim the lead before sophomore Kevin Crescenzi took it right back off a feed from classmate Tommy Carpenter. D’Angelo Harrison got into the three-point act for the Red Storm to put them back up two, but Carpenter teamed up with Crescenzi again for a layup, knotting the score at 25.

But Dartmouth center Maldunas had picked up his second foul, and St. John’s ripped off eight straight points, capped by a Sir’Dominic Painter dunk on the break. Sophomore Connor Boehm, who finished the game with a season-high 11 rebounds, fired up just his fourth three-point attempt of the year and found nothing but net to end the storm, and fellow sophomore Alex Mitola provided the final two Big Green buckets of the stanza, both from long range. He launched the second one from about 30 feet just before the buzzer sounder, and it tickled the twine and the Dartmouth faithful on hand as the squad trailed by just four at the break, 38-34.

In the second half, the Green got off to a slow start, missing their first six shots and turnover the ball over once as St. John’s scored the first seven points to open up its first double-digit lead at 45-34. Boehm broke the spell with a short jumper in the lane, and although he missed the foul shot on the and-one opportunity, Maldunas softly dropped in a baby hook the next time down to bring Dartmouth back within seven.

After Mitola answered three Red Storm points with his third three-pointer of the game — and 100th of his career — St. John’s took control of the game with an 18-4 run spanning 10 minutes. Before freshman Eli Harrison drilled a trifecta from the corner with 2:51 to play, the Red Storm had already built their lead as big as it would get at 66-45. Harrison traded triples with Max Hooper, then Dartmouth tallied the final four points of the game to close it out.

St. John’s finished the night with a slight edge on the glass, 41-38, but turned 15 Big Green turnovers into 22 points. Both teams finished the game under 40 percent from the floor — Dartmouth at 34.5 percent (20-of-58) and the Red Storm 39.3 percent (22-of-56). But St. John’s went to the charity stripe for 22 free throw attempts, converting 17 (.773). The Big Green were just 6-of-8 (.750) on foul shots.

This was the final game outside of the Ivy League for Dartmouth, which will host league-favorite Harvard (14-2, 1-0 Ivy) in a rematch of last week’s contest in Cambridge. The game will be televised nationally by NBC Sports Network with the tip taking place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26 from Leede Arena.

Notes: Paul Cormier was thwarted in his fourth attempt to win his 200th game as a collegiate head coach … Dartmouth’s three leading players that were averaging at least 10 points a game this year shot a combined 9-for-33 (.273) while scoring 22 points … the last time the Big Green shot at least 60 percent on three-point attempts in a game came two years ago almost to the day. On Jan. 14, 2012, Dartmouth nailed 10-of-16 triples in an 83-67 victory over Longwood … the 11 blocks are the most by a Big Green opponent since another Big East team, Notre Dame (now a member of the ACC), matched that total on Dec. 10, 2011.