Updated at 11:10 p.m.
Dartmouth (6-13, 2-3 Ivy) extended the men’s basketball team’s losing streak to four games on Friday night in another close contest.
In an increasingly familiar style, the Lions (9-10, 1-4 Ivy) came close to pulling away with a victory in the final minutes of play, but they failed to complete their comeback, falling 60-57.
“Honestly, I think it’s between the ears for us as a team,” head coach Kyle Smith said. “We’ve got to get out of this and feel good about ourselves.”
With just under three minutes left, senior forward John Daniels gave the Lions’ a 54-52 lead with a crowd-raising dunk, and the Light Blue seemed to have taken the wind out of Dartmouth’s sails.
But Big Green guard Alex Mitola took over for his team, scoring six consecutive points on a free throw, a lay-up, and a long three to give Dartmouth a four-point advantage.
Free throws by senior guard Brian Barbour, sophomore forward Alex Rosenberg, and Dartmouth’s Tyler Melville put the score at 60-57 with 31 seconds remaining and the ball in Columbia’s possession.
Sophomore guard Steve Frankoski took a contested corner three to tie the game, but his shot bounced off the rim. Senior center Mark Cisco grabbed the rebound and kicked it back out to his teammate, but Frankoski missed a second time as the clock expired.
“I think he feels bad that he couldn’t give us a chance to win, but there were a lot of guys who missed shots before that to get to that point,” Smith said. “We got the look we were trying to get…and you’ve just got to bury the shot.”
While the Lions shot 40 percent from the field, the Big Green were better than 50 percent from the floor.
The shooting disparity was even more obvious from beyond the arc, from which the Lions only hit three of their 20 shots. On the other hand, Dartmouth shot 7-15 from downtown, relying on threes as opportune moments to keep the lead or prevent Columbia from pulling away.
Mitola was impressive from beyond the arc, shooting 4-5 from three on his way to scoring 17 points. His classmate, forward Connor Boehm, also had a big night for the Big Green, finishing with a game-high 20 points.
Boehm and the Big Green’s other forwards exploited some defensive weaknesses in the Light Blue’s frontcourt, which hurt Columbia down the stretch.
“I thought zone helped us, got us back in the game, and then a couple times they got in the high post and we didn’t stay with Boehm,” Smith said.
The Lions’ biggest offensive contributor was Cisco, who had 16 points and nine rebounds. However, the senior center’s good shooting night was not enough to make up for some uncharacteristically low-scoring from his fellow starters, including Barbour, who had seven points and seven assists.
Just as concerning as the Lions’ losing streak is a possible ankle injury for freshman guard Grant Mullins.
The Canadian freshman, who solidified a spot in the starting lineup earlier this season, fell to the floor at the top of the key with 18:04 remaining in the second half.
Mullins seemed to be favoring his right ankle, and required the help of the trainer and a coach to limp off the court. Mullins did not reenter the game, and finished with only four points.
After the game, Smith said that although he knows Mullins did not break anything, the freshman’s status is still up in the air for Sunday.
The Lions will tip-off against Harvard at 2 p.m. on Sunday in Levien Gymnasium.
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Updated at 11:10 p.m.