Men’s basketball drops fifth straight, falls at home to Bison
By Claire Monagan, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Wednesday, January 4, 2012
In its final game before beginning Ivy League play this weekend, the Dartmouth men’s basketball team lost to Bucknell University, 67-59, at Leede Arena on Tuesday night. The Big Green had a mixed break overall, turning in both impressive and disappointing performances.
Dartmouth (3-12, 0-0 Ivy) brought an energy to the start of the game that allowed the Big Green to pull ahead early. Although Dartmouth’s lead never exceeded 10 points, it sported an eight-point cushion after the initial 20 minutes. Captain David Rufful ’12 commented that the first half exhibited some of the Big Green’s best basketball of the season.
“The first half went really well.” he said, “We played really well defensively, and offensively our shots were falling.”
Still, Dartmouth could not maintain its early lead in the second half, while Bucknell (10-6, 0-0 Patriot) found its shooting touch over the final 10 minutes, leaving Dartmouth unable to keep up. Taking advantage of some lapses in the Big Green defense, the Bison hit several tough shots within the final five minutes, including two three-pointers. As the lead grew, Dartmouth could not put up the necessary baskets to pull back.
Rufful said a lot of the responsibility for the loss falls on the seniors and juniors on the team.
“They need to have the resolve to finish the game and complete the play,” he said.
The Big Green did show promise in its substitution strategy, efficiently and effectively maneuvering players in and out of play. Rufful noted that this advantage is one that the team will be sure to carry into the future.
“Our greatest strength was subbing quickly with energy and enthusiasm,” Rufful said. “I think that’s a strength that we should start using more.”
The game against the Bison capped a busy month for the Big Green, which played eight games over winter break. Dartmouth entered the break on the heels of a Thanksgiving trip to the Great Alaska Shootout. Rufful said that he thought the trip was a great experience for the team, particularly for team bonding on and off the court. Rufful, a 6’4” forward, was also named to the All-Tournament Team at the Shootout after averaging 17.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game over the three games. He shot 57.6 percent from the floor and 66.7 percent from three-point range. He noted that despite the individual honor, the team’s overall play was more important.
Upon returning home, the Big Green took on its in-state rival, the University of New Hampshire, where Dartmouth’s 53-50 loss resulted in a 31-31 tie in the all-time Dartmouth-UNH series. Although the Big Green’s defensive prowess limited UNH to eight points in the final 14 minutes, the team was unable to put up the necessary points within the last three minutes to secure the lead. With 1:18 left, UNH’s Jordon Bronner scored a fast break lay-up that gave the Wildcats a 53-50 lead they would not relinquish.
Following two road losses to the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne, the Big Green rallied for a home game against Elon University, stealing a 62-54 win.
Rufful said that the team considered the Elon game to be one of the most successful contests so far.
“We played really well.” Rufful said. “Everything was clicking on all cylinders.”
The team suffered a letdown in the following game, on the road against Colgate University. Despite a strong desire to beat Colgate and confidence in its ability to do so, Dartmouth fell 61-55 in overtime. Rufful said that although Colgate played well, Dartmouth did not play to its full potential.
“We felt we could have won, but Colgate outplayed us,” he said. “We weren’t happy about how we played.”
Following three more losses against the United States Military Academy, the University at Albany and the College of the Holy Cross, the Big Green is looking to reverse its fortunes and right the ship in the weeks to come. The team needs to improve in several areas, particularly rebounding and shooting. Dartmouth ranks last in the Ivy League with a field goal percentage of 39 percent. Defense has been a strong point for the Big Green this season and a constant in nearly every game.
The team will need a strong effort this Saturday in its matchup against No. 22 Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Harvard leads the Ancient Eight with a shooting percentage of 46 percent, and the Crimson (12-2, 0-0 Ivy) has already notched wins over Atlantic Coast Conference foes Florida State University and Boston College.
Dartmouth lost both games to the Crimson last season, and it will now face Harvard two times in two weeks as it begins Ivy League play.