Bryant Edges Dartmouth for Road Win

Bryant news release…

HANOVER, N.H. – A back-and-forth New Year’s Eve battle came down to a missed three in the suspenseful final seconds, as the Bryant University men’s basketball team held on to a 62-60 victory over Dartmouth College on Thursday at Leede Arena, ending a nine-game skid.   

Senior captain Shane McLaughlin (Old Tappan, N.J.) played like someone well deserving of the captaincy title. With two of the Bulldogs’ (3-10) three leading scorers – being junior bigman Dan Garvin (Bethel, Conn.) and sophomore guard Hunter Ware (Powder Springs, Ga.) – made ineffective for most of the game due to foul trouble, McLaughlin was forced to put the team on his back. He did just that, scorching the Big Green (4-7) with a career-high 26 points.

McLaughlin’s point total, along with his five assists and four triples were all game-highs. He also added six boards while sinking a career-best 10 shots (71 percent from the floor) and a going 4-for-4 from deep. Freshman Nisre Zouzoua (Brockton, Mass.) netted 13 points for the Bulldogs (3-10) on a 4-for-9 performance from the floor and a 3-for-5 effort from three-point land.

Evan Boudreaux finished with a double-double of 16 points and a contest-leading 13 caroms, while Miles Wright matched his Big Green (4-7) teammate with 16 points, as the duo shot identical percentages from floor (7-for-15). Wright drained a team-high two shots from long range, but Dartmouth struggled from beyond the arc, converting on five of their 20 attempts (25 percent), while also shooting 45.6 percent from the floor.  

McLaughlin’s hot shooting from three proved to be contagious, as the Black and Gold hit 10 treys and shot over 55 percent from downtown. Bryant shot 45 percent from the floor (23-51) and outrebounded the Big Green, 38-30, marking the first time the Bulldogs have won the battle on the glass this season.

After two-made free throws from Malik Gill tied the game for an 11th time, 57-57, with 2:16 to play in the second half, Garvin, who had just two points in 16 minutes to that point, came up with perhaps the biggest play of the game for the Bulldogs. Following a Ware miss, Garvin eluded the box out of Boudreaux and soared up high in the air for the offensive board, then converted on the putback to give the Bulldogs a 59-57 lead.

A great defensive effort forced the Big Green into a shot-clock violation on the next possession, and McLaughlin responded on the ensuing offensive trip with a clutch step-back jumper to put Bryant up four, 61-57, with 44 seconds to play.

Boudreaux brought Dartmouth within one point on the next possession thanks to an unconventional three-point play. McLaughlin was fouled on Bryant’s next trip down the floor with under 15 seconds on the clock. He missed the second of two attempts at the line, giving Dartmouth a chance to either tie the game or win it, but Gill missed a deep three with five tics left, and after two failed tip-ins, Zouzoua corralled the rebound to secure the win.

The Bulldogs opened up the game hitting their first three shots to take a 7-2 lead just two minutes into the game, but Dartmouth responded with a 13-0 run over the next six minutes of action to take a 15-7 edge at the 13:09 mark. It was the largest lead of the game for either side, as no lead would exceed five points the rest of the way.

McLaughlin hit back-to-back threes from both corners to put an end to the Big Green Run and bring Bryant within four points, 17-13, with 11:46 to play in the first half.

After baskets by Andrew Scocca (Melrose, Mass.) and Dartmouth’s Kevin Crescenzi made it 19-15 in favor of the Big Green at the 8:30 mark, both sides went quiet from the floor, with no points being scored for three full minutes.

Curtis Oakley Jr. (South Euclid, Ohio) drained a trey to end the scoring drought with 5:29 left to go, followed by a Zouzoua connection from beyond the arc to give the Bulldogs a 21-19 lead with 4:59 to play in the frame. Zouzoua closed out the half with yet another triple at the 1:51 mark to tie the game, 29-29, which was the score as both teams entered the halftime locker rooms.  

The Bulldogs opened up the second half on yet another 7-2 run to take a 36-31 advantage into the final 16 minutes of the game. The Black and Gold were able to hold onto a slim lead from the 19:14 mark to the 13:25 mark of the second stanza, before the Big Green tied the contest, 39-39, on a Boudreaux fastbreak layup.

Dartmouth did not acquire its first lead of the second frame until another Boudreaux layup at the 9:42 mark made it 46-44. Zouzoua banged in four-consecutive points from the 7:56 mark to the 7:22 mark to help the Bulldogs regain a lead, 50-48.

The Black and Gold went up by five points yet again with just over five minutes to play thanks to McLaughlin’s fourth triple and a jumper in the paint, but consecutive trifectas from Gill and Guilien Smith gave the Big Green their final lead of the afternoon, 56-55, with 3:30 to play.

McLaughlin responded with a coast-to-coast basket off of a Connor Boehm missed three, giving Bryant a 57-56 lead with 2:27 to go in the half, less than one minute before Garvin’s crucial offensive rebound and putback.

Bryant will ring in the New Year opening up Northeast Conference action, as it hosts Central Connecticut State University on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. It will be the first game played at the Chace Athletic Center for the Bulldogs since Dec. 8.