By: Rick Bender
at NEW HAMPSHIRE (6-6)
Monday, Dec. 30, 2019 | Noon | ESPN+
Lundholm Gymnasium (2,500) | Durham, N.H.
• Dartmouth stays within the Granite State borders to finish out the calendar year, taking on in-state rival New Hampshire in Durham on Monday afternoon with a chance to even the all-time series.
• The Big Green have had nine days to stew over their 64-60 defeat against Bryant prior to Christmas, their first home loss of the season.
• Both Chris Knight (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Aaryn Rai (13, 10) recorded double-doubles in the setback, the first pair of Dartmouth teammates to do so in eight years.
• Knight leads the Green in scoring at 13.3 points per game (12th in the Ivy League) and needs 13 more to reach 900 in his career. He also tops the team in assists (27), blocks (20) and steals (11).
• Rai, while second on the squad at 10.9 ppg, leads Dartmouth and ranks sixth in the conference with 7.0 rebounds per game.
• All three of the Big Green players averaging 10-plus points (including James Foye) are shooting at least 50 percent from the floor, led by Rai (.535).
• Foye, meanwhile, is shooting an even 50 percent from downtown (31-62), but falls just shy of qualifying for the national rankings in which only nine players in Division I have hit half of their 3-point attempts.
• One area Dartmouth would like to see improvement is at the foul line where the team is converting just 63.6 percent, which ranks in the bottom 30 nationally.
Series vs. New Hampshire
• The only two Division I schools in the state of New Hampshire have met 69 times on the hardwood with the Wildcats holding a slight edge, 35-34.
• Last year, Dartmouth led the entire first half, then fell behind by as many as eight points in the second stanza before taking control in the final 12 minutes to knock off UNH, 76-68.
• New Hampshire native Ian Sistare posted a career-high 21 points — 12 coming at the line — while Chris Knight added 17 and Rai 13 off the bench to lead the Green to victory.
• This is the 50th consecutive season these two have squared off and third straight on Dec. 30.
• The Big Green are 12-17 against UNH at Lundholm Gym since it opened in 1938, with their last victory at the venue coming six years ago, 62-48.
Scouting the Wildcats
• New Hampshire may be .500 on the season at 6-6, but it is a perfect 4-0 on its home court.
• While the Wildcats have sizable advantages in scoring margin (+7.2) and rebounding (+9.1), if one takes away their two blowout wins over Curry and Maine Maritime, those figures drop to -3.2 and +4.6, respectively.
• Four players have a double-figure scoring average, led by Nick Guadarrama at 15.8 ppg while shooting 55.9 percent from the floor and 43.1 percent from distance.
• Jayden Martinez (20-of-48, .417) and Josh Hopkins (30-of-89, .337) are the other big long-ball threats on a team that averages 9.5 threes per game.
• On the boards, Sean Sutherlin (9.9 rpg) is supported quite nicely by Guadarrama (8.9) and Martinez (7.3).
• Bill Herrion (Merrimack ’81) is in his 15th season at UNH, sporting a 178-257 record with the Wildcats. He also coached Drexel to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances in eight seasons and helmed East Carolina for six years, giving him a mark of 415-426 in his career.
Double the Doubles
Chris Knight registered his second 20-point game of the season when he put 21 on the board against Bryant on Dec. 21. And with 10 rebounds, he managed to record his second double-double of the season and fifth of his career. He wasn’t the only Big Green player to record one that day, however, as Aaryn Rai finished the game with 13 points and 10 boards for his second consecutive double-double. That meant Rai had produced as many double-doubles in the two contests as he had in his entire collegiate career previously. The last time Dartmouth teammates collected double-doubles in the same game was on Dec. 17, 2011 — eight years prior — by a pair of freshmen in Gabas Maldunas and John Golden in a 62-54 win over Elon.
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 63.6 percent at the line, which ranks last in the Ivy League among the bottom 30 teams in Division I, and only three times have converted at least 70 percent in a game. Opponents, however, are having an even worse time at a woeful 54.6 percent, a mark which is worse than all 350 Division I teams. The only opposing squad to hit 70 percent or more at the line was Merrimack, which was just 4-of-5.
Defense is the Key to Victory
It should come as no surprise that the single biggest factor in Dartmouth’s victories this season has been its defensive play. Six times the Big Green have held opponents under 40 percent from the floor, and all six times they have emerged victorious. The only game in which Dartmouth’s opponent shot better than 40 percent and lost was the 80-75 overtime win at UMass Lowell on Nov. 17. For the season, opponents have hit on 41.0 percent of their field goals, the third lowest mark in the Ivy League, and 33.2 percent from the perimeter, second in the conference.
Saturday and 20: Kisses of Death
Dartmouth has not found any success when playing on Saturday, dropping all four games on that day of the week this season (not to mention the last four in the 2018-19 campaign). And while four different Big Green players have scored 20 or more points in a game this season, Dartmouth would rather get more scoring balance from the team considering that in all four games the Big Green had someone go for 20-plus points, they ended up losing. That includes the most recent endeavor, a 64-60 loss to Bryant with Knight going for 21.
Ian Carter has done a nice job of providing some efficient offense off the bench over the last four games. The senior has hit 8-of-10 field goals during those contests while averaging 5.3 points. In the two wins, he hit all four of his shots, but in the two losses, he missed one in each. The lesson is that he cannot miss for Dartmouth to win, or something like that.
… But Long Distance Disconnection
Over the last three games, Dartmouth has struggled from the perimeter with only 15 3-pointers in 66 attempts (22.7 percent). Only once in the first 10 games were the Green less accurate in any of those three contests as well, and the 17.6 percent performance against Bryant was a season low.