Strong Second Half Helps Men's Basketball Knock Off No. 4 Williams Friday Night

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – The Tufts men's basketball team used a strong second half, erasing an 11 point deficit with just over six minutes left in the game to knock off No. 4 Williams, 69-63, on the road on Friday evening.  The win is the third NESCAC win for the Jumbos and their ninth in a row. 

Everett Dayton finished with 11 points, three assists and two blocks. 

Tufts improves to 12-3 overall and 3-0 in NESCAC play.  Williams falls to 11-3 this season with a 2-1 NESCAC mark.  

The two teams battled early, and the Ephs held a 10-9 advantage about seven minutes into play.  A dunk by Matthew Karpowicz was followed by a layup from James Heskett, a layup from Karpowcz, two from Mike Greenman and a layup and one from Heskett to take a 21-9 lead about halfway through the first half. 

Freshman Justin Kouyoumdjian broke up the 11-point unanswered streak and started the Jumbo comeback with a layup of his own.  After six more Eph points, Kouyoumdjian sunk a three, freshman Luke Rogers made one of two at the line, senior Everett Dayton added a layup and the Jumbo comeback started.  

The Jumbos would chip away at the Eph lead for the remainder of the first half.  With 1:24 left in the first frame sophomore Eric Savage made two free throws, and a layup from Rogers brought the Jumbos within three, 31-28.  The first half ended with the score just like that. 

It was Tufts that came out on fire in the second half.  A quick layup from senior Vincent Pace brought the visitors within one, and then a jumper from sophomore Pat Racy gave the Jumbos the lead, 32-31 just about a minute into the second half.  The Jumbos increased their lead to five and it would stay around there for the next five minutes.  Down 43-39 the Ephs got a layup from Cole Teal, followed by a made free throw to bring them within one, 43-42, with 13:10 left in the game. About a minute later Bobby Casey gave the home team the lead back with one from downtown. 

The two teams traded points, and with things locked at 50 with nine minutes remaining the Ephs scored 11 unanswered points to take an 11-point lead with six and a half to go.  Senior Everett Dayton broke the unanswered streak and the Jumbos went on another tear.  

After the two from Dayton, Rogers and Savage each made layups.  After a Tufts timeout Savage added another layup to bring the Jumbos within five, 63-58 with 3:51 left in the game. A layup plus a made free throw from senior Thomas Lapham brought Tufts within two, 63-61 and then Savage tied the game at 63 with a layup with 2:21 remaining.  Racy would sink a jumper after that to give the Jumbos the 65-63 advantage.  

After a Williams' timeout, Casey missed two free throws and Savage pulled down a key defensive rebound, but Pace missed his shot and Williams had the ball back down two with just under a minute to play.  Heskett pulled up for a three but missed, and once again Savage grabbed the rebound to give the Jumbos the ball, a two-point lead and 49 seconds left on the clock.  Racy made it 67-63 in the Jumbos favor with a layup with 23 seconds left, and Lapham added two made free throws with five seconds left to put the game out of reach for the Ephs. 

Savage was the point leader for the Jumbos with 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals.  But, 11 of those points, four of those rebounds and three of those steals all came in a clutch second half for the sophomore.  Pace finished with 12 points and ten rebounds and Dayton added 11 points and three assists along with two blocks for the Jumbos.  Rogers turned in seven points and four boards off the bench, Racy finished with eight points and five rebounds and Lapham finished with eight points. 

Heskett was the leader for the Ephs with 21 points, while Teal added 12 points and three assists and Casey finished with 11 points.  Karpowicz turned in nine points and ten boards off the bench for the Ephs.  

The Jumbos are back in action on Saturday when they travel to Middlebury for a 3 pm start with the Panthers. Williams plays again when they host Bates on Saturday at 3 pm.