Hanover — Dartmouth College’s Leede Arena, the site of so much uninspiring men’s basketball during its 30-year history, hosted yet another such performance Friday during the Big Green’s 69-65 loss to Cornell.
The hosts led by six points with 13 minutes, 30 seconds remaining and were up by three points with nine minutes to go. However, the Big Red embarked on a 17-6 run and dropped Dartmouth to 5-17 overall and 2-7 in Ivy League play.
Cornell, which began the night in a four-way tie for fifth place in the Ancient Eight, improved to 7-17 and 3-6 and swept its season series with the Big Green for the first time in five years. Dartmouth is last in Ivy team offense, scoring margin, field-goal percentage, blocked shots, assists, steals, turnover margin, assist-to-turnover ratio and 3-point field goals made per game.
Was Friday the Dartmouth season’s low point? Neither first-year coach David McLaughlin nor standout Evan Boudreaux, who had a career-high 27 points, agreed with such a description. Big Green fans, however, may have a hard time feeling otherwise as their teams’s chances of reaching the Ivy League’s inaugural postseason tournament are all but dead.
The worst league record that would likely qualify that tournament’s fourth and final participant would be 6-8. More likely, 7-7. That means Dartmouth would have to finish the season on either a 5-0 or 4-1 run. Its final two games are at Pennsylvania and at league-leading Princeton, now 16-6 overall and 9-0 in Ivy action.
“I would just say this was a frustrating night,” said McLaughlin, whose program has produced six winning league seasons since it first occupied its home court for the 1987-88 campaign. “An overall vision of success for me right now is, how are we going to rebound from this tomorrow?”
Said Boudreaux: “We can’t do anything about the past. We just have to look at the future.”
Small wonder the Big Green wants to put Friday’s game in its rearview mirror. It made 11 of 17 free throws and received two points in 25 minutes from swingman Miles Wright, a junior who was once the Ivy League’s Rookie of the Year. Wright has nine times scored in double digits this winter and six times scored five or fewer points.
McLaughlin recited familiar responses about how Wright needs to relax and try to contribute in ways besides scoring. What’s being done to coax some sort of consistency out of the Boston native?
Wright is “a talented young man of high character,” McLaughlin said, adding that No. 22 has won shooting contests during recent practices. “He thrives on pressure and wants to be out there.”
Guilien Smith was Dartmouth’s second-leading scorer with 15 points. No one else had more than Brendan Barry’s six.
The freshman guard also chipped in four assists. Senior guard Mike Fleming had five assists and three points in 34 minutes. Starting forward Wesley Dickinson had two points in 23 minutes, making the only field goal he attempted.
“We got in foul trouble … so that made the rotation knotty and the flow of our offense slowed down,” McLaughlin said. “We came in here expecting to play hard and win the game and we didn’t.”
The coach said his team “has made great strides in a lot of areas.” He admitted that the Big Green allows too many easy baskets, has trouble playing with a lead and sometimes gives in to frustration.
“I’m not trying to (speak) with rose-colored glasses on, but we’ve asked our players all year long to trust in our process and allow us to coach them,” McLaughlin said. “If we get that and we go out and play hard, I don’t see why you wouldn’t be happy as a coach.”
Notes: Cornell’s Matt Morgan had 28 points in 30 minutes of play. … Internet message-board chatter has questioned whether Boudreaux might follow in the steps of former Dartmouth guard Alex Mitola, who completed his degree in three years and transferred to George Washington for his fourth year of NCAA eligibility. Asked that question on Friday, Boudreaux responded in the negative. … Attendance was listed as 621, but appeared closer to half that number. … The score was tied seven times. … Boudreaux leads Dartmouth with an average of 17.1 points per game. He’s followed by Smith (12.0), Wright (10.3) and Barry (5.5). … Former Dartmouth coach Paul Cormier, fired after last season, was recently honored by Fairfield (Conn.) University. The ceremony was in remembrance of the Stags’ 1996-97 team, which reached the NCAA tournament with Cormier at the helm.
Tris Wykes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.