MEDFORD – Senior Vincent Pace scored 27 points and classmate Thomas Lapham led a strong defensive effort to help the Tufts men's basketball team pick up a hard-fought 60-56 win over visiting Amherst on Friday night in Cousens Gym.
|Pat Racy scored six points, including two critical free throws late in the game.|
The win moves the Jumbos' record to 16-6 overall this year and they are 5-3 in NESCAC play. Amherst drops to 13-7 overall and 4-3 in NESCAC games this year.
The first half was close and no team would lead by more than six points at any point in the frame. The Jumbos and the Mammoths traded points early, and with things locked at five the Jumbos got a jumper from freshman Luke Rogers and then a layup from Pace gave them a four-point advantage about six minutes into play.
Back-to-back baskets from Grant Robinson for the Mammoths tied the game, and that's the way most of the first half played out. With the game locked at 17 with 7:08 remaining, the Jumbos got a layup from Pace, followed by two free throws from Pace and a layup from Rogers to give them a six point advantage, 23-17, with just over five minutes left in the half. Amherst got a jumper from Michael Riopel shortly after to cut the lead to four, but that is as big of a dent as they would put in the lead, and the Jumbos took a 29-24 advantage into the break.
Both teams struggled to shoot a bit in the first half with the Jumbos shooting 30.8%, just a tad better than Amherst's 29.4%. Pace led the Jumbos offensively with 13 points and eight rebounds in the first half, and Lapham was a force defensively, drawing two offensive fouls and adding five points, four rebounds and a block.
Coming out of the break the Jumbos got a jumper from sophomore Pat Racy to increase their lead to seven. Amherst answered with a layup from Johnny McCarthy and then two points from Michael Riopel brought the Mammoths within three. After another jumper from Racy for the Jumbos, Amherst got back-to-back threes from Robinson and Riopel to take the lead back, 34-33, with just over 16 minutes to play.
The two teams traded baskets, and with things locked at 36 the Jumbos took the lead again. It started with a three from sophomore Miles Bowser, and then Pace added back-to-back layups to give the Jumbos a seven-point advantage again, 43-36, with 12:13 remaining. But, once again the Mammoths were able to cut that lead. Fru Che started the comeback with a three, and then added a layup less than a minute later. A three from McCarthy put the Mammoths ahead again, 44-43, with 8:19 remaining.
It was Amherst that would take the lead this time, as Eric Sellew scored two consecutive baskets to give the Mammoths a five-point advantage with just over six minutes remaining. A three from freshman Brennan Morris cut the Mammoth lead to two, but Amherst answered with a McCarthy jumper. Pace drained a three on the opposite end to cut the visitor's lead to one, 50-49, with 4:49 remaining.
It would be over two minutes before either team would make another basket, but it was Pace that was able to convert on a layup, getting fouled and making the free throw after to give the Jumbos a two point lead, 52-50, with 2:26 left to play. The Mammoths tied it on their end with a layup from Sellew, and then senior Everett Dayton made two free throws to give the Jumbos the two point advantage again.
The two teams traded baskets, and with the Jumbos up by two Che got fouled on the Mammoth end, but only made one of two free throws. The Jumbos had the ball with less than a minute to play and a one-point lead, 56-55, but weren't able to get a good shot off and Amherst got the ball back with 19 seconds left and down by one. McCarthy missed his layup, and once again Lapham was huge for the Jumbos pulling down the defensive rebound and getting fouled. On the inbounds pass Pace was fouled and went to the line for one-and-one. Pace sunk them both to give the Jumbos a three-point advantage, 58-55.
The Jumbos fouled on the inbounds and Robinson made the first and missed the second on purpose, but Racy grabbed a key rebound and made both free throws on the other end to secure the 60-56 win for the Jumbos.
Pace finished with a game-high 27 points, and added eight rebounds, and four assists. Racy helped with six points and eight rebounds and Dayton turned in nine points, three rebounds and two assists. Lapham finished with five points and seven rebounds.
McCarthy's 13 points and 14 rebounds led the Mammoths. Robinson helped with 12 points and Sellew finished with nine points and five boards while Riopel totaled nine points and six rebounds. Che added six points and five rebounds.
Both teams are back in action on Saturday. Tufts hosts No. 21 Hamilton at 3 pm and Amherst plays at Bates with a 3 pm start.