A critical turnover by Penn was enough to give Dartmouth a victory over the Quakers in a game that came down to the last minute of play.
With 49 seconds left and the game tied, sophomore center Gabas Maldunas stole the ball from Miles Cartwright, leading to an Alex Mitola layup. After that play, the Big Green never looked back in a 69-64 final at the Palestra on Friday night.
It was turnovers that proved to be the Quakers’ Achilles’ heel. They committed 18 in the game — 11 in the first half — which Dartmouth (7-18, 3-8 Ivy) converted into 27 points. On 12 Big Green turnovers, Penn had just 13 points.
The Quakers (7-20, 4-6) trailed all of the first half and most of the second. It was junior guard Dau Jok who finally tied the game with 6:22 left. Jok would go on to finish with 14 points, including four critical three-pointers.
With just under five minutes remaining, Cartwright let loose a jumper that gave the Quakers their first lead since it was 2-0. The game was tied five times and the lead changed twice during the stretch run.
A first half of sloppy play, missed layups and those turnovers was ultimately too much for Penn to overcome. In the last 54 seconds of the first half, the Quakers appeared to have found some momentum and went on a 7-0 run, which cut the halftime deficit to five. But they were unable to sustain it in the second half.
“We have to bring more fire from the start,” said junior captain Cartwright, who scored 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting.
When the Quakers faced Dartmouth on Feb. 16, they also stumbled out of the gate. In that game, they trailed by 12 at halftime but ultimately came back to win, 67-57.
On Penn’s two slow starts against the Big Green, coach Jerome Allen said, “I have no explanation.”
Historically, Penn has dominated Dartmouth, winning 148 out of the 205 times they have met. Friday’s loss marks only the fourth time the Quakers have fallen to Dartmouth at home since 1959.
Dartmouth coach Paul Cormier was happy with his team, especially for taking the reins at the very end of the game.
“Wins for us haven’t come real easy, and this one obviously didn’t either,” he said. “What I was pleased about in this game is we came ready to play, and in the second half, it was just a good ball game.”
Freshman guard Alex Mitola turned in 17 points, shooting 5-for-11. He was followed closely by freshman forward Connor Boehm, who scored 15 points.
Freshman guard Tony Hicks, who had standout performances last weekend against Columbia and Cornell, again led the Red and Blue in scoring with 23 points.
“He’s someone we’re going to have to reckon with for the next three years,” Cormier said, “and quite frankly, I’m not looking forward to it.”
Soft-spoken and frustrated, Cartwright said after the game, “There was no energy in the building from the crowd standpoint, so when that happens, we have to bring our own energy and that didn’t happen tonight.”
Penn has four Ivy games left in the season. It will take on Harvard at the Palestra on Saturday night at 6 p.m.
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