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Big Green Takes Positives From Dispiriting Loss

UVM's Brian Voelkel (right) and Dartmouth's Gabas Maldunas eye a rebound in Burlington on Wednesday, December 12, 2012. For more pictures from the game, go to www.burlingtonfreepress.com.

UVM's Brian Voelkel (right) and Dartmouth's Gabas Maldunas eye a rebound in Burlington on Wednesday, December 12, 2012. For more pictures from the game, go to www.burlingtonfreepress.com.

Burlington — Dartmouth had two chances in the waning seconds to end its frustrating lack of success against Vermont last night. But Alex Mitola’s 3-pointer from the top of the key bounced off the rim and, after the Big Green retained possession when the carom went out of bounds, John Golden’s attempt from deep in the right corner also bounced away as time ran out.

The reality for coach Paul Cormier’s young team was a 52-50 loss at Patrick Gymnasium that stung, but also carried some hope for later this season.

“There were some positive signs that we hopefully can become a consistent team and more competitive like we were tonight,” Cormier said. “But these kids haven’t won much and there’s nothing like a win. This was tough — we needed a win.”

The victory was Vermont’s 13th in the last 14 meetings against the Green and UVM’s third against Ivy League opponents this season. The Catamounts jumped to 6-3 while extending Dartmouth’s losing streak to three games in a 2-6 campaign.

The Big Green again started five underclassmen — freshmen Connor Boehm and Mitola, and sophomores Gabas Maldunas, Golden and Jvonte Brooks. Vermont countered with a veteran group featuring four juniors who all saw NCAA tournament action a year ago.

Dartmouth hung with UVM step for step by beating the Catamounts on the glass and answering every Vermont surge until the final seconds. The Big Green won the offensive rebounding battle, 16-6, and the overall rebounding total, 33-31.

“This wasn’t pretty — Dartmouth made us work for everything,” said Vermont coach John Becker. “Overall they really beat us up in the paint. It was disappointing how many second chance opportunities we gave up.”

Dartmouth surged early, weathered a 14-0 Vermont run, and then closed fast to trail only 29-27 at the half. The Big Green led, 8-3, in the early going before five points from Trey Blue boosted UVM on top 17-8 after nine minutes.

Three-point bombs from Tyler Melville and Mitola sparked a 10-1 Dartmouth run that tied the game at 18 with 6:30 remaining. Seven consecutive points from Clancy Rugg gave the Catamounts a 29-22 advantage but Boehm’s baseline jumper and Golden’s 3-pointer just before the buzzer gave the Green momentum heading into the second half.

Rugg and Blue were at the heart of a deep Vermont roster that enabled the Catamount reserves to outscore Dartmouth’s bench, 29-3.

But Boehm (nine points, 10 rebounds), Maldunas (14 points, nine rebounds) and Golden (12 points) never let Vermont open any breathing room. UVM’s biggest lead in the second half was five points.

“We still need some leadership and John Golden did a better job from that aspect tonight,” Cormier said. “And with the freshmen, we’re still learning who can and who can’t play. Connor Boehm was a monster tonight.”

Three free throws from Boehm gave Dartmouth a 45-44 lead with 4:54 remaining, it’s first advantage since 8-7. Mitola’s floater from the lane tied the game at 50-50 with 50 seconds left before Luke Apfeld’s two foul shots created the final margin with 29 seconds left to set the stage for the frantic final moments.

“I can’t say it’s positive to lose a game, but this was the first time this season we had five guys really contributing,” Golden said. “There was a toughness tonight that we’ve been looking for. We attacked all game. Now we just have to finish better.”

Dartmouth plays at Arizona State on Saturday.