HANOVER, N.H. — Sophomore Gabas Maldunas got the 2012-13 season started on the right foot by pouring in a career-high 25 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to lead Dartmouth (1-0) to a 67-54 victory over visiting Maine (0-1) on Saturday night at Leede Arena. The 6-9 forward scored 17 of the 25 points in the second half and blocked four shots on the night as the Big Green won their first season opener in eight years.
Playing a team of predominantly freshmen and sophomore, head coach Paul Cormier got an energetic and enthusiastic performance from his squad that led by as many as 17 after taking a two-point advantage into the intermission. Sophomore forward John Golden provided some of the biggest thrills for the crowd of 812 with a pair of three-pointers and two dunks early in the evening as he scored 13 points, while rookie point guard Alex Mitola chipped in 12.
The Big Green defense shut down the Black Bears, holding them to 35.8 percent shooting (19-of-53) from the floor and 15.4 percent (2-of-13) from long range while forcing 17 turnovers. Center Mike Allison led Maine with a double-double, tallying 17 points while hauling in 11 rebounds, seven at the offensive end. Guards Justin Edwards and Xavier Pollard added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
|Freshman Alex Mitola was excellent running the floor while pitching in 12 points in his collegiate debut.|
The youthful enthusiasm was apparent from the outset of the game as Dartmouth score the first six points with Golden breaking free on the break to cap the run and causing Maine to burn a timeout early. The Black Bears battled back to tie the game at 10, then took their first lead of the game at 13-12 when Edwards converted a three-point play at about the midway point of the half.Maldunas responded with a layup before Maine rattled off six straight points. Freshman Malik atoned for two quick fouls by draining the Big Green’s first of five three-points of the evening before Mitola canned a long jumper to knot the score at 19. With two minutes left in the half, the Black Bears had pulled back ahead by five at 26-21 when Jon Mesghna knocked down a trifecta, only to have Maldunas sink a short jumper in the paint, Golden tie the game with a triple and sophomore Jvonte Brooks hit both ends of a one-and-one at the line to send Dartmouth into the locker room with a 28-26 lead.
In the second half, the Big Green took control right away with a 12-2 run, beginning with a three from the corner courtesy of freshman Kevin Crescenzi. Maldunas provided the next two buckets before Golden forced Maine to call another timeout with his second trey of the night and the first double-digit lead for the Big Green at 38-28. After Brooks ended the run with a pair of foul shots, the Black Bears battled back with seven straight points.
|Sophomore John Golden provided quite a few highlights in the win over Maine.
The two teams traded baskets before Dartmouth pulled away for good with a 14-2 spurt. Rookie Tommy Carpenter was integral in the run with his hustle plays, first grabbing a rebound at the defensive end that led to a quick bucket for Maldunas at the other end, then securing an offensive board that allowed Maldunas to score again. The forward also contributed two steals in the run, the second of which allowed Mitola to rain down the three that put the Big Green up by 17 at 56-39. Maine never closed the gap to single digits the rest of the game.
Maldunas finished the night 10-of-15 from the floor while playing all but one minute, while Golden knocked down 5-of-8 overall and joined Maldunas with three thefts. Despite missing most of the preseason, Brooks grabbed nine rebounds in 25 minutes of work. As a team Dartmouth hit 22-of-49 (.449) field goals and 5-of-19 (.263) three-pointers, while being especially effective at the charity stripe, draining 18-of-22 (.818) to secure the victory.
Dartmouth will play the second of three straight home games to start the season when it hosts cross-state rival New Hampshire on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Maine returns to the hardwood on Wednesday when it takes on Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., at 7 p.m.