SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The Dartmouth men’s basketball team ripped off 15 3-pointers on Tuesday night at Purcell Pavilion — five courtesy of senior Miles Wright — but Bonzie Colson led host Notre Dame (9-3) with a career-high 37 points to fend off the upstart Big Green (3-6), 97-87. Matt Farrell added 22 more for the Fighting Irish, which shot 57.6 percent from the floor for the game.
Dartmouth featured a more balanced scoring effort with five players in double figures, led by Wright with 15 points on his five long balls. Freshmen Aaryn Rai and Chris Knight each provided 14, while sophomores Will Emery and Brendan Barry added 12 and 10, respectively, with Barry adding 12 assists for his first career double-double.
Colson also had a double-double with a game-high 11 rebounds while hitting 15-of-21 from the floor, 3-of-5 from the perimeter and 4-of-5 at the foul line. Farrell knocked down four 3-pointers in six tries and 8-of-13 overall, plus dished out six assists, while both players swiped the ball three times apiece.
The Big Green fell behind by as many as 16 on three occasions in the second half, the last coming with 9:20 to play on a short jumper by Rex Pflueger, who finished the game with 13 points. But Dartmouth scored nine straight points on an Emery lay-in, a couple of jumpers in the paint by Knight and a Wright 3-pointer, all in a two-minute span, closing the gap to seven at 77-70.
Farrell briefly stemmed the tide for Notre Dame with a trifecta of his own, but the Green kept coming as Knight hit a baseline jumper and freshman Adrease Jackson hit a shot in the lane. Two Colson free throws were answered by Wright with his fifth 3-pointer and a run-out dunk by Jackson to make it a three-point game, 82-79, with 4:36 to go.
Colson responded to the uprising by swishing a trey, then stealing the ball and taking it to the hole for a two-hand jam. After Barry drove for a layup, Farrell started an eight-point Irish run with a shot in the lane, followed by a thunderous dunk on an offensive rebound by Martinas Geben as part of his 13 points on the night.
Although Rai drained his fourth triple of the game and sophomore Ian Sistare canned his third in as many attempts to give Dartmouth 15 from downtown on the night — its most in 14 years — the clock would not cooperate and ran out on the Big Green.
“We were able to cut that lead down to three late by playing smart basketball and knocking down open looks,” head coach David McLaughlin said after the game. “We played hard and with purpose, but Colson simply would not let Notre Dame lose the lead. He made big plays time and again, and really stepped up when we closed the gap.”
As a team, the Big Green shot 46.9 percent (15-of-32) from behind the arc, their most 3-pointers in a game in 14 years. Overall Dartmouth sank 32-of-63 shots (.508) from the floor, its fourth game over 50 percent after having just three such games all of last season. Of those 32 buckets, 24 came with assists (half from Barry), the most for the Green against a Division I opponent in 16 years.
Notre Dame was no slouch in the statistical departments, drilling 34-of-59 field goals (.576) and 8-of-20 (.400) from long range, though the latter mark was slightly less than its season accuracy of 41.6 percent entering the game. The Fighting Irish also had a sizeable advantage on the boards (35-25) and at the foul line (21-of-24, .875 compared to 8-of-10, .800).
Dartmouth kept the game close throughout most of the first half despite some early foul trouble to a majority of its starters. Wright took a seat after barely four minutes with two fouls and did not return until the second half, while senior Taylor Johnson picked up his second foul with more than nine minutes until the intermission. And with starting forward Emery and reserve big man Jackson collecting two fouls with nearly eight minutes still on the clock, McLaughlin was forced to stick with his bench for long stretches.
The young roster was up to the challenge as Sistare popped a pair of 3-pointer and Knight provided two buckets. Barry produced his first 3-pointer of the night as well, all leading to seven lead changes and six ties during the first 20 minutes.
“Our guys didn’t get overwhelmed in the moment with so many regulars on the bench with foul trouble,” McLaughlin said. “Some of the younger players got the chance to demonstrate they can contribute in a tough environment and came through to keep the score close in the first half.”
After Knight made a nifty spin move for a left-handed layup to knot the score at 33, however, Notre Dame rattled off 11 straight points, nine courtesy of Colson thanks to two consecutive treys for a sudden 44-33 advantage. Rai, who hit a rainbow 3-pointer for his first points of the night with 4:47 left in the half, added two more long balls in the final 40 seconds to allow the Green to stay within seven at the break, 46-39.
The deficit remained in the single digits until a Pflueger dunk five minutes into the second stanza for a 57-46 Fighting Irish lead, leading to a Dartmouth timeout. When Notre Dame opened up a 16-point advantage three minutes later on a T.J. Gibbs triple, McLaughlin called another timeout to settle his troops. Not even three straight Big Green treys — two from Wright and another from Barry — could slow the Irish down as they maintained that 16-point advantage before Dartmouth nearly stormed all the way back.
The Big Green finally return home after five straight on the road, hosting Bryant (1-11) in Hanover on Friday at noon. Notre Dame has one more game before Christmas as well with Southeastern Louisiana coming to town on Thursday for a 7 p.m. tilt.
Notes: Dartmouth’s last game with at least 15 3-pointers was against Tufts on Dec. 4, 2003 ... the last one against a Division I opponent was against Albany nearly two years earlier on Jan. 18, 2002 … Rai scored in double figures for the first time in his career, Jackson enjoyed a season-high seven points and Sistare’s three 3-pointers were a personal best … Emery and Barry led the Big Green with five rebounds each … the game was televised on ESPNU, just Dartmouth’s second-ever appearance on one of ESPN’s television networks, the first coming on Dec. 21, 1983 when top-ranked North Carolina led by Michael Jordan defeated the Big Green, 103-58.