In front of fans and family celebrating Senior Day, Dartmouth’s traditional seniors, fifth-year senior and graduate student led the way in an 84-70 defeat of Penn, keeping the Big Green’s Ivy League Tournament hopes alive.
Aaryn Rai, finishing up his fifth year in Hanover, paced Dartmouth (8-16, 5-8 Ivy) with a career-high 27 points, as well as a game-high 11 rebounds. Graduate student Brendan Barry, along with four-year seniors Taurus Samuels, Garrison Wade and Wes Slajchert, helped the Big Green’s cause with a combined 44 points.
The Quakers (12-14, 9-4), trotting out their 12th starting lineup this season due to the absence of co-captain Jelani Williams and league-leading scorer Jordan Dingle, couldn’t keep up with the Big Green’s elder statesmen and missed a chance to get back into title contention.
The game started out with four ties and six lead changes before Dartmouth went on a 7-0 run to take a 21-15 lead at the nine-minute mark.
With the Green still up six with just over four minutes left, Bryce Washington hit a layup and three-pointer to lead Penn on a 7-2 run and cut the deficit to one, 32-31, with 2:30 to go in the half. The senior from Southfield, Mich., a fixture in the Red & Blue’s starting lineup before suffering an injury in his sophomore year, came off the bench to season highs in points (13) and minutes (25).
After Washington’s triple, Barry connected on two of his own to make it 38-31. Sophomore Clark Slajchert, the brother of Dartmouth’s Wes, finished the half on his own 4-0 run to get the Quakers back within three at the break.
Penn was able to make it a one-point game twice over the first few minutes of the second half, but Rai hit a jumper and Samuels nailed a three to make it 53-44 at the 14-minute mark.
A triple from Max Martz, his only points of the second half, and another layup from Washington brought Dartmouth’s advantage to four, but two free throws from Nikola Dimitrijevic and a long-distance shot from Rai made it 58-49 halfway through the frame.
Four straight free throws from Washington and Lucas Monroe made it a six-point game with four and a half to go, but a hook shot from Rai and an old-fashioned three from Dame Adelekun raised the lead to 67-56.
While Jonah Charles, an early season starter for this year’s Penn squad, came off the bench to connect on four three-pointers over the last three and a half minutes, Dartmouth’s 10-for-10 free throw shooting down the stretch kept the visitors at arm’s length.
Dartmouth shot 52% (17-for-33) from inside the arc, 41% (11-for-27) from outside the arc and 90% (17-for-19 from the charity stripe for the day. But the Big Green’s 46% (6-for-13) from three and 93% (14-for-15) effort from the line allowed them to pull away in the second half. Thanks to Charles, the Red & Blue were able to match the Green with six three-pointers in the last 20 minutes, but the visitors could only manage to take six free throws (making five).
Of Rai’s 27 points, 17 came in the second half. The Markham, Ontario native finished with an 11-for-15 (73%) shooting performance. In addition, Samuels had 15 points, Barry finished with 14, Wade totaled 10 and the winning Slajchert brother, Wes, had five. Adelekun just missed the team’s second double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.
The younger Slajchert had a team-high 18 points for the Quakers, while Charles finished with 14.
With the win, the Green remain in the hunt for Ivy Madness, but their chances remain slim. According to Dartmouth Athletics, the team needs Harvard (5-7) to beat Princeton (10-2) at home on Sunday. Then, Dartmouth has to win at Harvard on March 5, while Penn needs to defeat league-leading Princeton, Brown (5-8) needs to win at Yale (10-3) and Columbia (1-12) has to beat Cornell (6-7).
Penn already has a bid to the Ivy League Tournament but has a tough road to getting the regular season title and tournament’s top seed. Friend of Ivy Hoops Online and data science expert Luke Benz gives Penn just a 3.8% chance of nabbing the No. 1 seed.
Note: Fans expecting to watch the game on ESPN+ were surprised to see that the game was not broadcast until the last 90 seconds. A representative from Dartmouth Athletics informed Ivy Hoops Online that ESPN was given a 7 p.m. start time before the season began. When the game time was changed to 2 p.m., also before the season, ESPN never made the change. Unfortunately, no one picked up on this issue until after today’s game started.
ESPN was alerted to the problem around 2:15 p.m., but getting the change made to their broadcast schedule was a slow process, given how many events the network was streaming at the time.
Dartmouth does have a complete broadcast of the game and is sending it to ESPN so it can be placed in the network’s achieve section and be made available for viewing. The Big Green, their fans, and part of the Slajchert family will be pleased, while the Quakers faithful will certainly remain disappointed.