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Men's Hoops: UNH Wildcats Overpower A Disjointed Dartmouth

  • Dartmouth forward Gabas Maldunas is trapped between UNH's Chris Pelcher, left, and Jeron Trotman, right during the UNH at Dartmouth Men's Basketball game on November 13, 2012. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Dartmouth forward Gabas Maldunas is trapped between UNH's Chris Pelcher, left, and Jeron Trotman, right during the UNH at Dartmouth Men's Basketball game on November 13, 2012.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth forward Gabas Maldunas is trapped between UNH's Chris Pelcher, left, and Jeron Trotman, right during the UNH at Dartmouth Men's Basketball game on November 13, 2012. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Dartmouth forward Gabas Maldunas is trapped between UNH's Chris Pelcher, left, and Jeron Trotman, right during the UNH at Dartmouth Men's Basketball game on November 13, 2012.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • UNH forward Ferg Myric pushes Dartmouth guard Alex Mitola behind him as he surges towards the basket during the UNH at Dartmouth Men's Basketball game on November 13, 2012. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    UNH forward Ferg Myric pushes Dartmouth guard Alex Mitola behind him as he surges towards the basket during the UNH at Dartmouth Men's Basketball game on November 13, 2012.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • UNH forward Ferg Myric pushes Dartmouth guard Alex Mitola behind him as he surges towards the basket during the UNH at Dartmouth Men's Basketball game on November 13, 2012. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    UNH forward Ferg Myric pushes Dartmouth guard Alex Mitola behind him as he surges towards the basket during the UNH at Dartmouth Men's Basketball game on November 13, 2012.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth forward Gabas Maldunas is trapped between UNH's Chris Pelcher, left, and Jeron Trotman, right during the UNH at Dartmouth Men's Basketball game on November 13, 2012. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • Dartmouth forward Gabas Maldunas is trapped between UNH's Chris Pelcher, left, and Jeron Trotman, right during the UNH at Dartmouth Men's Basketball game on November 13, 2012. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • UNH forward Ferg Myric pushes Dartmouth guard Alex Mitola behind him as he surges towards the basket during the UNH at Dartmouth Men's Basketball game on November 13, 2012. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • UNH forward Ferg Myric pushes Dartmouth guard Alex Mitola behind him as he surges towards the basket during the UNH at Dartmouth Men's Basketball game on November 13, 2012. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

Hanover — Based on early results, the Dartmouth College men’s basketball team is going to be both maddening and amazing this season. Sometimes on the same possession.

It was that kind of outing against New Hampshire last night. The youthful Big Green lost 72-58 and had an announced Leede Arena gathering of 831 cheering and wincing throughout the contest. There was certainly more of the latter, but even in defeat, the hosts showed enough promise, if not enough heart, to satisfy coach Paul Cormier and co-captain Jvonte Brooks.

“We’re young but that’s no excuse for our lack of mental focus and how inconsistent we were,” said Brooks, whose team knocked off visiting Maine last weekend in its season opener but made just 16 of 60 field-goal attempts last night. “We weren’t ready to play tonight.

“We owe everyone here tonight an apology for how we played. We got blown out and embarrassed on our home court.”

Said a downcast Cormier: “I’m so upset and it has very little to do with us being young. The team that wanted it the most won that game. We have a long way to go and we have a lot to learn.”

A characteristic sequence took place with nine minutes remaining and Dartmouth on offense. For half a minute, the Big Green appeared frazzled, frantic and indecisive. Freshman point guard Malik Gill, who looks like he’d be dynamite in the schoolyard but who’s experiencing turbulence in the college ranks, looked confused when he had the ball.

As the shot clock wound down, however, it was Gill, a 5-foot-9 product of suburban New York City, who wound up with the rock in his paws. Stranded near the end of the scorer’s table on the left side, the rookie unleashed a desperation 3-pointer … and sank it.

Horrible execution followed by a heck of a play? The opposite was also often true. Dartmouth would string together several nice passes, only to commit one of its 18 turnovers. A play would be run well, but then be nullified when a wide-open shot clanked off the rim. Starting point guard Alex Mitola missed his first five field goals, and his team sank only three of its initial 18 shots from the floor, but Cormier was most unhappy with his team’s attitude.

“I was very disappointed with our overall toughness,” he said. “We did a hell of a job against Maine and, somehow, we thought that was going to carry over. It doesn’t happen that way.”

Dartmouth sophomore center Gabas Maldunas, who scored 25 points against the Black Bears, had eight points, four rebounds and six turnovers last night. The Lithuanian, who fouled out with six minutes remaining, wasn’t spared a frank assessment by his boss.

“I thought he played very soft,” Cormier said. “They took him out too easily.”

Receiving more slack was Brooks, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds despite a bum ankle. The sophomore wasn’t happy with his performance, but Cormier tipped his cap to the rugged forward.

“He probably shouldn’t be playing, but we taped him up as tight as we could because we need his leadership and gravitas,” Cormier said. “He’s got absolutely no (jumping ability) at all, but I thought we got a lot out of him in terms of the intangibles he brings.”

Freshman point guard Alex Mitola, who starred against Maine, also struggled last night. The little man from New Jersey hit only three of 14 shots from the floor but finished with a team-high 17 points based on 9-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line.

“I’ve never seen him shoot as poorly,” said Cormier, who recruited Mitola for two years. “He doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s thinking about it. We’ll get him out of it. He’s not someone I’m worried about.”

New Hampshire (2-0), which has won its last five meetings with Dartmouth and 11 of the teams’ last 14 clashes, led 29-26 at halftime but pushed that lead to 12 points midway through the second half. The physical, ugly game featured a combined 73 free throws. The Big Green was outrebounded, 48-35, and UNH held a 24-13 advantage in bench scoring.

“You don’t give yourself a chance at all if you don’t come intense and physical,” Brooks said. “We came out scared tonight.”

Cormier, sitting disconsolately in his office, his tie tossed on his cluttered desk, wasn’t going to argue.

“The great thing about sports is that you almost always get what you deserve,” he said. “And we got exactly what we deserved tonight.”

Notes: The Big Green breaks for fall term finals and is next in action Nov. 24 against the visiting Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne Mastadons. … The last time Dartmouth started a season 2-0 was during the 1996-97 campaign. … Big Green backup center Matt LaBove suffered an apparent ankle injury eight minutes into the game and did not return. … Also exiting early was UNH center Chris Pelcher, who took a shot in the chops and left a trail of blood drops on his way to the Wildcats bench with three minutes to play. … Brooks expressed displeasure that several teammates were late for a Monday weight-lifting session. “We lost tonight’s game starting yesterday, and that’s my fault as captain for not kicking those guys into shape,” he said. … UNH features one player from New Hampshire, backup guard Tommy McDonnell of Durham. … Brooks wore fluorescent yellow sneakers, which he said he ordered online.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.