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Brown Stops Big Green

Hanover — The Dartmouth College men’s basketball team fell heavily back to earth Saturday, losing 75-62 to visiting Brown and losing its second consecutive Ivy League game after sweeping traditional league powers Pennsylvania and Princeton at home last weekend.

For a second straight night, the hosts dug themselves an early hole and couldn’t recover. This time the deficit was 17-3 in the sixth minute. Dartmouth expended considerable energy pulling to within four points late in the first half before trailing 42-33 at intermission.

“You don’t have luxury of missing three shots in a row when you’re coming back and coming back,” said Big Green guard John Golden, who led his team with 17 points. “It’s frustrating, because last weekend we saw what we’re capable of and there’s no reason at all we couldn’t win both of these games.

“We took a step backwards this weekend. We were lost out there.”

Dartmouth, which fell to 9-11 overall and 2-4 in Ivy play, now hits the road for league games at Cornell, Columbia, Princeton and Penn. Six of the Big Green’s final eight contests are away from Leede Arena. Last season’s five Ivy victories was the most in the program’s past four campaigns.

Dartmouth made just 29.8 percent of its field-goal attempts during a 13-loss to Yale on Friday, boosting its shooting success to 33.9 percent Saturday. But the hosts allowed stocky point guard Sean McGonagill and slender shooting guard Steven Spieth to each hit for 20 points, while center Rafael Maia added 13. Brown is 12-8 and 4-2.

“We’re holding teams to a reasonable score but we’ve got to answer and I haven’t been able to come up with one,” said Dartmouth coach Paul Cormier, noting that the absence of injured All-Ivy center Gabas Maldunas allows foes to drive to the hoop more boldly on offense and to avoid playing help defense at the other end. “We’re not an explosive offensive group that can go on runs of 10 or 12 points. Our runs are going to be four or six points.”

Dartmouth received 13 points from point guard Alex Mitola and 12 from backcourt counterpart Tyler Melville. Guard Kevin Crescenzi added eight points, but 6-foot-7 power forward Connor Boehm could muster only four, although he contributed a team-high nine rebounds.

“He’s got to rise to the occasion offensively because we need him,” Cormier said. “He’s hesitating on his shot and I’d like to see him take the ball inside more to get fouled. He’s not as big as the guys we’re playing against there, but he’s the biggest we’ve got.”

Freshman center Cole Harrison, back from another bout of illness, played 10 scoreless minutes during the first half and one during the second, Cormier saying he’s rationing the rookie’s playing time so as not to wear him out.

“I wish I had played him a little bit more, maybe 15 minutes,” the coach said. “But it wasn’t a game-changing event.”

What it boils down to is that Dartmouth has virtually no margin for error. An example Saturday came at the free-throw line, where Brown earned 27 points while the Big Green could only come up with 16. Both teams shot 69 percent from the charity stripe.

“Loose balls can’t be 50-50 for us; we have to get all of them,” Cormier said. “We only had (11) turnovers tonight, which isn’t mind-boggling, but it’s still too many for us.”

Said Golden: “We gave an exceptional effort last weekend and we played hard this weekend, but it was different. Last weekend, we made the right decisions while playing hard and this weekend, we made mistakes.”

Notes: Maldunas is scheduled to undergo knee surgery this week and Cormier said it won’t be known until after the procedure how long the junior will be sidelined. … Spieth’s younger brother, Jordan, is a golfer who twice won the U.S. Amateur title and is off to a hot start in the pro game. … A group of former Dartmouth players were at Saturday’s game and one of them, onetime guard and 2011 graduate Ronnie Dixon, narrowly missed making a half-court shot during an in-game promotion. … Freshman Wesley Dickinson missed the game with a hamstring injury. … Freshman Ike Ngwudo, who has yet to play this season because of injury, is scheduled to practice this week and Cormier said he expects the Milton (Mass.) Academy product to play before the campaign’s conclusion. … Cornell, Dartmouth’s next opponent, is 1-19 and 0-6 in Ivy League play. The Big Red won the league title and reached the NCAA tournament in 2010, but coach Steve Donahue soon departed for Boston College.

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