By: Rick Bender
vs. BRYANT (7-4)
Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019 | Noon | NESN/ESPN+
Leede Arena (2,100) | Hanover, N.H.
• Dartmouth is shooting to improve to 4-0 at Leede Arena when it hosts Bryant on Saturday at noon before taking a nine-day break for the holiday.
• Last time out, the Big Green pulled away from Central Connecticut State in the second half to defeat the winless Blue Devils, 76-60.
• Chris Knight was about as efficient as possible in scoring 18 points, going 8-for-8 from the floor to become the first Dartmouth player to hit that many shots without missing in 30 years.
• Aaryn Rai did just about everything in 25 minutes on the court, recording his first double-double of the season (14 points, career-high 14 rebounds) to go with a personal-best seven assists.
• As a team, Dartmouth held the Blue Devils to 38.3 percent from the floor and 31.8 percent from long range, two categories which the Green defense has excelled this year (third overall in the Ivy League and second on 3-point accuracy allowed).
• The three starting guards each had nine points, including Ian Sistare who grabbed eight rebounds as well, raising his season average to 5.8 per game, 11th in the conference.
• Dartmouth is the only team in the league with three players in the top 15 in rebounding: Rai (6.8, sixth), Sistare and Knight (5.3, 14th).
• While James Foye was just 2-of-6 from the perimeter, he remains sixth nationally in 3-point percentage (51.7). He also has made at least two triples in six straight games, just the eighth Big Green player in the last 23 seasons to do so.
Series vs. Bryant
• These two teams first played in 2011 and have met every year since, splitting eight games.
• Exactly one year ago, Bryant rallied from a 15-point deficit in the first half and a seven-point hole in the final 3:26 to defeat the Big Green, 68-67, despite 23 points from James Foye.
• The last game played here at Leede Arena ended in a 75-58 Dartmouth victory with Brendan Barry providing 25 points.
• The Big Green are 17-14 against current Northeast Conference schools, including a 55-46 win over Merrimack last month and the win over CCSU earlier this week.
Scouting the Bulldogs
• Bryant is on track to post its first winning season in five years and is 2-1 against the Ivy League this year (season-opening 73-71 loss to Brown, 82-81 win over Cornell and a 67-65 win over Columbia).
• Though the Bulldogs aren’t overly accurate shooters (bottom third nationally in all three percentages), they make up for it with a quick pace, ranking among the top 50 teams nationally in that category.
• That pace has led to a scoring average of 75.3 ppg, nearly eight more than its opponents.
• Adam Grant is the star of the team, posting 19.6 points a night while ranking in the top 25 in 3-pointers made per game (3.2).
• Charles Pride won’t necessarily sing a song, but he does pitch in 11.4 ppg, and Patrick Harding hits the boards hard at 11.2 rebounds per game.
• With Harding leading the way, Bryant is beating teams on the glass by 4.5 rebounds a night.
• Jared Grasso (Quinnipiac ’02) took over the reins (well, leash) of the Bulldogs as the program’s eighth head coach last year and enters this game with a record of 17-24 at the helm. He spent the previous eight years as an assistant at Iona.
Last Televised Game
This game against Bryant is the third of three Big Green contests to be aired regionally by NESN. Previously, wins over Florida Gulf Coast University (NESNplus) and Central Connecticut State (NESN) were televised by the New England network. Dartmouth is hoping to keep NESN as a good luck charm and remain perfect on the boob tube.
Sending Devils Home Blue
Dartmouth squared off against Central Connecticut State for the first time in 20 years when the Big Green played host on Dec. 18. Though the score was tied with 12 minutes to play, Dartmouth went on a 17-2 run in a five-minute span, ignited by a Trevon Ary-Turner triple to take control en route to a 76-60 triumph, improving to 5-2 all-time against the Blue Devils.
What a Perfect Knight
In the 76-60 victory over Central Connecticut State on Dec. 18, junior Chris Knight attempted eight field goals and made eight field goals as he led Dartmouth with 18 points. He is the first Big Green player to make at least eight shots from the floor without missing in a game in 30 years. The last to do it was Walter Palmer ’90, who also went 8-for-8 in a 77-71 win at Maine on Dec. 16, 1989.
Knight wasn’t the only player with a big game against the Blue Devils. Junior Aaryn Rai recorded his first double-double of the season (and third of his career) by scoring 14 points and hauling in 14 rebounds, the latter tying a career high. He nearly pulled off a triple-double — something that has been accomplished just five times in Big Green history — by handing out a personal-best seven assists. The last triple-double was courtesy of Ian McGinnis ’01 19 years ago.
The Dartmouth defense held CCSU to 38.3 percent from the floor, the sixth time in 12 games an opponent has failed to crack 40 percent. Not surprisingly, the Big Green have won all six of those games. For the season, opponents have hit on 40.7 percent of their field goals, the third lowest mark in the Ivy League, and just 32.2 percent from the perimeter, which ranks second in the conference and coincidentally is the Blue Devils’ accuracy from deep as well.
Everyone Lending a Hand
Well, maybe not everyone, but Dartmouth has seven players averaging at least one assist per game and another (Ian Carter) that is one helper shy of the mark. Only two of those players have dished out two per game — James Foye (2.2) and Chris Knight (2.0). While the Big Green have had seven players have at least one assist per game for a full season a couple of times, they have never had eight do so.
Rai and Shine
In the first 12 games, Aaryn Rai has hit at least half of his field goal attempts in nine of them, including five straight until a 3-for-10 performance at Boston University. For the season, the junior forward is shooting 55.1 percent, which is the fourth best in the Ivy League (minimum three FG per game) with Chris Knight fifth (.520) and James Foye sixth (.518).
Free Throws Hardly Free
For some reason, neither Dartmouth nor its opponents have had much success at the charity stripe this season. The Big Green are shooting 63.5 percent at the line, which ranks last in the Ivy League among the bottom 50 teams in Division I. That would be the third lowest mark for the team in any season since the stat was recorded in 1964-65. Opponents, however, are having an even worse time at a woeful 54.9 percent, a mark which is worse than every 350 Division I team.