Cornell men navigate gritty Dartmouth, secure victory in Ivy opener, 79-71

ITHACA, N.Y. — Dartmouth held a one-point lead at the half, but Cornell shot 60% in the second half and fended off several late rallies to win the Ivy League opener on Sunday, 79-71.

“It was exactly what the Ivy League is going to be like,” Cornell coach Brian Earl said. “[Dartmouth] knew exactly what we were going to do and we had to fight through it. They are a veteran team. It’s a pretty good win.”

Dartmouth (3-9, 0-1 Ivy) took a 7-6 lead in the opening minutes before Cornell (9-3, 1-0) went on a 10-0 run over the next three and a half minutes. Guy Ragland Jr. connected on his lone three-pointer of the game to push the Big Red ahead 30-20 with 4:28 left in the half, but the Big Green closed on a 14-3 run to sneak a one-point lead into the locker room.

“[Dartmouth] does a great job on the defensive end, just trying to muck up what you do,” Earl said. “We just had to tell our guys to not run away from their job and make sure they were cutting or coming to get the ball or whatever needed to be done, that they needed to be elite at it. I think we probably got better during the game at that.”

Dartmouth senior guard Wes Slajchert connected on a three-pointer to open the second half, but Cornell quickly responded on an 8-0 to snag a four-point lead. The Big Red would never trail again, but the Big Green remained within one possession for most of the second half. Cornell briefly took a eight-point lead with 7:24 to go, but a 10-2 Dartmouth run tied it at 63.

With the Big Red struggling on offense, Chris Manon connected on a three-pointer to push the hosts ahead by three with 4:18 left. Manon scored 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting before fouling out in the final minutes.

“It’s good to see when you put the work in, [the ball] goes in when the lights are on,” Earl said of Manon. “He’s got a few things he needs to work on with regard to fouling and poise, but I think it’s a step forward for him.”

With 1:48 left, senior guard Dean Noll hit a triple and iced the game with a pair of foul shots shortly after. He scored 20 points, besting his previous season-high of 12 against Coppin State and just one short of tying his career high, set in a 2020 game against SUNY-Purchase.

“My teammates made it easier for me,” Noll said. “Coach drew up a couple plays for me to go to the basket with my right hand and it worked in the first half. It worked in the second half, too.”

Cornell shot 52% from the field in the game and 35% from deep. But after scoring 20 points off six treys against Syracuse, Keller Boothby was limited to just two points by the Dartmouth defense.

“Keller, who was doing well from the three-point line, just couldn’t get a look,” Earl said. “We tried to wear [Dartmouth] down a little bit so maybe their defense would be a little less intense, but they did a great job and we managed to just squeak it out.

“We made a couple shots and played some pretty good possessions of defense when it counted.”

Dartmouth had three scorers in double figures, including Aaryn Rai with a team-high 16. Garrison Wade added 15 and Brendan Barry had 12 with two three-pointers. The Big Green shot 48% from the field and made 10 threes.

Next up, Dartmouth heads home to host Yale and Brown for the first back-to-back of the season beginning Friday. Cornell hits the road to face Penn and Brian Earl’s alma mater Princeton.

“At this time of year, classes aren’t in session, so our guys can get a good rest and really concentrate on what’s important on the court,” Earl said. “We’ll just do our best. There’s going to be mistakes, there’s going to be bumps along the road, but for now, things are good.”

NOTE: Taurus Samuels did not play for Dartmouth, while Jordan Jones and Nazir Williams were out for Cornell.