MEDFORD – On Senior Day in Cousens Gym the Tufts men's basketball team closed out their regular season with a 76-71 win over Trinity after honoring their five seniors. With the win the Jumbos clinch the sixth seed in the upcoming NESCAC Tournament and will travel to take on third-seeded Hamilton next Saturday.
|Ben Engvall was one of five seniors honored before the game.|
The Jumbos close out the regular season with a 17-7 mark overall and a 6-4 mark in NESCAC play. Amherst, Williams, Hamilton, Wesleyan and Middlebury all finished NESCAC play with identical 7-3 records, and the seeding was determined by head-to-head competition. With the setback, Trinity falls to 15-9 overall and 4-6 in NESCAC play, and as the seventh seed in the upcoming conference tournament will travel to take on second-seeded Williams in NESCAC Quarterfinal play.
The Bantams and the Jumbos played an extremely close game on Saturday, as no team led by more than six for the entire contest. Both teams were a little slow to start, and about four minutes into play the score was locked at four. The two teams traded baskets and with things locked at ten the Jumbos got a free throw and then a three from senior Vincent Pace. After one free throw from Trinity's Nick Seretta, the Jumbos got two from the charity stripe from freshman Like Rogers to take a 16-11 advantage.
Trinity answered with a free throw from Tim Flynn, and then two from Joe Bell. A layup from Donald Jorden tied things at 16, and that's how the first half would go. The two teams were tied at 23 with 4:30 left in the half, and the Bantams took a lead thanks to a layup from Jorden. A jumper from Jorden gave Trinity the four-point advantage, but the Jumbos took the lead right back thanks to a layup from Rogers and then a layup and then five consecutive points from senior Everett Dayton. A three from Trinity's Joe Bell gave the Bantams the 32-30 lead at the break.
The two teams traded the lead to start the second half, and about five minutes into play the Bantams built their largest lead of the day. Up by two, 45-43, Trinity got two free throws from Bell and then a layup from Judah Woney to take a 49-43 advantage with 11:57 left in the game. The Jumbos answered with two free throws from senior KJ Garrett and then a three from freshman Justin Kouyoumdjian brought Tufts within one, 49-48, with just over ten minutes left in the game. The Jumbos stayed within a few of the Bantams for the next three minutes, and then senior Thomas Lapham sunk a three with 6:29 left that put the Jumbos ahead 58-57.
The game was tied five times in the last 4:40 as the two teams traded baskets and the lead. A three from Trinity's Jeremy Arthur tied things at 69 with 1:28 remaining. But, sophomore Patrick Racy made one-of-two at the line to give the Jumbos the 70-69 lead, and they would not let go of that lead. Lapham made five free throws in the last 29 seconds to help the Jumbos secure the win, and the Jumbos played strong defensively to pick up the 76-71 win.
Pace finished with 18 points, three rebounds and two assists for the Jumbos. Dayton turned in his first double-double of the season with 17 points and ten rebounds. Lapham added 11 points and Garrett finished with nine points, seven rebounds and three steals off the bench for the Jumbos. Racy added six points and seven rebounds and sophomore Eric Savage turned in six points and five boards.
Trinity was led by 12 points and five rebounds from Kyle Padmore. Arthur finished with ten points and five boards and Bell added 11 points. Christian Porydzy added nine points, five rebounds and three assists.
NESCAC Tournament play begins next weekend and that's the next time both teams will play. Tufts will travel to Hamilton and Trinity will play at Williams, both games will start at 3 pm.