MEDFORD – Sophomore Justin Kouyoumdjian scored a career-high 18 points and the Tufts men's basketball team overcame a 12-point first half deficit. But, the Jumbos weren't able to hold on, falling to No. 16 Nichols, 87-81, on Wednesday night.
|Sophomore Justin Kouyoumdjian finished with a career-high 18 points|
The setback moves the Jumbos record to 5-7 this year. Nichols improves to 11-1 with the win.
The game was fast paced from the start and the two teams traded baskets for the first seven minutes of play. With things locked at 14 the Bison got a layup from Matt Morrow, and followed that with two free throws from Deante Bruton. After a layup from Kouyoumdjian for the Jumbos, the two teams traded threes and the Bison were ahead 24-19 about halfway through the first half. Echevarria sunk another three, and then layups from Jerome Cunningham and Morrow gave the Bison a 31-19 lead.
Sophomore Brennan Morris answered with a layup of his own, and then classmate Luke Rogers added back-to-back layups to cut the lead to six. Freshman Tyler Aronson made a free throw, and then two free throws from Kouyoumdjian brought the Jumbos within three, 31-28, with 3:10 left in the half. The two teams battled for the last three minutes and the Bison took a one-point lead, 35-34, into the break.
Both teams came out of the break ready to play, and the two teams traded baskets and the lead. The game was tied five times and the lead changed nine times during the first ten minutes of the second half.
With the Bison ahead, 59-58, about halfway through the second half the Jumbos got a three from sophomore Will Brady and then a layup from Kouyoumdjian to take a four-point lead. After two Bison free throws, Morris sunk a three that put the Jumbos ahead, 66-61, with eight minutes left to play. But, the Bison answered with two free throws from Bryce Boggs, and then Boggs added a layup to bring the Bison within one, 66-65. A layup and a free throw from Echevarria put the visitors ahead again, 68-66, with 5:39 left on the clock.
After a Jumbo layup from Rogers, the Bison scored seven straight points to take a 75-67 lead with 3:29 remaining. Down 79-71 with 2:03 left in the game, Kouyoumdjian turned in one from downtown and then junior Eric Savage made a layup to bring the Jumbos within three, 79-76, with 1:27. On the next play, freshman Tyler Aronson came up with a big steal to give the Jumbos the ball back and a chance to tie the game. But, an untimely turnover gave Nichols the ball back and Nate Tengalia made a layup to move the lead to five. The Bison hung on for the 87-81 win.
Kouyoumdjian was the offensive leader for the Jumbos with 18 points. Rogers finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Morris added 14 points and six rebounds and Savage turned in 11 points, six rebounds and three assists.
For the Bison, Echevarria was the point leader with 22, and he added six rebounds and six assists. Morrow finished with 21 points and eight rebounds. Bruton added 14 points and six rebounds. Tenaglia and Cunningham both turned in ten points, and Cunningham also finished with 13 rebounds and five assists.
The Jumbos will be back in action on Friday when they open up NESCAC play with a 7 pm contest at Colby. Nichols plays again on Saturday when they host Gordon for a 3 pm start.