DURHAM, N.H. — Tanner Leissner poured in 32 points and Jacoby Armstrong added 21 more — both season highs — to lead host New Hampshire (4-10) to an 83-66 victory over Dartmouth (4-7) on Saturday night in the annual in-state battle. The win allowed the Wildcats to maintain the all-time lead in the series, 35-33, after the Big Green defeated UNH by one point last year in Hanover.
Dartmouth had four players score in double figures, led by senior Miles Wright with 14 points. But the Big Green managed to connect on just 4-of-17 3-point attempts (.235) compared to 12-of-26 (.462) for the Wildcats. New Hampshire also enjoyed a 35-26 advantage on the boards and shot an even 50 percent (27-of-54) for the evening.
Leissner posted his 32-point effort on the strength of 9-of-16 shooting, including a perfect 4-of-4 from long range, plus 10-of-14 at the foul line. Armstrong rarely missed as well, hitting his first eight shots, but most of his damage came in the second stanza with 16 points after the intermission due to early foul trouble.
“New Hampshire’s experience in the front court really showed tonight, especially Leissner who was so efficient,” said Dartmouth head coach David McLaughlin after the game. “They played a physical game and caused problems for us on the glass. And they got us out of our offensive flow early in the game, leading to some early turnovers that put us in a hole we could never dig out of tonight.”
Dartmouth held a slim 8-7 lead in the early going, but the Wildcats went on an extended 18-4 run spanning nine minutes to take control of the game at 30-15. New Hampshire had its inside-out game working with Leissner down low and four different players draining 3-pointers, the last by Elijah Jordan to cap the run.
Wright and senior Taylor Johnson provided back-to-back buckets in the paint, but Leissner continued to produce at the foul line (7-of-8 in the first half) as well as behind the arc with two triples in the final three minutes of the stanza. A Will Emery dunk and a pair of Adrease Jackson putbacks kept the difference at 15 before Leissner launched his second long ball — giving him 19 points in the half — for an 18-point bulge. Wright answered in the final seconds of the period with a 3-pointer of his own, leaving Dartmouth down, 45-30, at the break.
After shooting just 37 percent in the first half while committing nine turnovers, the Big Green settled in on offensive, coughing the ball up just once after halftime while hitting more than half of their shots (14-of-26, .538). But UNH would not relent, also topping 50 percent (13-of-25, .520)) from the floor while draining five more shots from the perimeter, two coming from Leissner in the first two and a half minutes to boost the lead to 20 at 54-34.
The difference grew to as many as 22 — 63-41 — when Leissner canned a jumper with 13 minutes to play, before Dartmouth embarked on a nice 12-3 spurt to claw back within 13. Freshman Chris Knight, who finished with 10 points, had a pair of baskets in the run, as did Wright with a trey and a breakaway layup after his fourth steal of the evening.
But Armstrong brought the uprising to an abrupt end with a baseline dunk with eight minutes to play. He would provide the next three Wildcat buckets as well, keeping the deficit at 17 with five minutes to play, 74-57.
The last glimmer of hope came in the form of buckets in the lane from Emery (12 points), senior Cameron Smith and Knight, closing the gap to 12 with 3:23 remaining. That was as close as the Big Green would come, however, as Armstrong converted a pair of foul shots and John Ogwuche ripped a corner 3-pointer to seal the game.
The two New Hampshire natives on the Dartmouth roster provided a few thrills for the crowd as sophomore Ian Sistare matched a career high with 10 points to go with three rebounds, while freshman walk-on Ben Swett dished off an assist during the final minute of action on the game’s final points.
Dartmouth will begin play in the Ivy League next Saturday at Harvard (5-8). The game is scheduled to tip off at 2 p.m. and be streamed live on both ESPN3 and the Ivy League Network.
Notes: Dartmouth’s leading scorer, Brendan Barry, was held to a single point and had his streak of 12 games with at least two 3-pointers come to an end … Wright now has 113 steals in his career, moving past Alex Barnett ’09 into the all-time top-10 list at Dartmouth.