Men's Basketball | Jumbos settle for split on opening weekend
Consolation game victory gets Tufts first win
Published: Monday, November 19, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 19, 2012 08:11
After winning the Charlie Ryan Invitational to start last season and only losing one game in its first seven contests, the men’s basketball team wanted to get this year off to a similarly strong start. However, after splitting their first two games of the season at the John K. Adams Tip−Off, the Jumbos will be looking to regroup, as going 1−1 was not the opening weekend they were hoping for.
After losing its first game to Washington and Lee 79−68 on Saturday, Tufts found itself in the consolation game of the tournament on Sunday, when it beat Brooklyn College 74−62.
Despite the win on Sunday, Tufts was left disappointed, as they came into the tournament — and the season — with high expectations after a 16−9 campaign last year.
“We got punched in the mouth and crumpled under pressure,” said sophomore guard Ben Ferris, who scored a team−high 18 points against Washington and Lee. “We showed no grit at all and we all knew it.”
The “punch” from Washington and Lee came in the form of a 17−5 run to start the game that left Tufts shocked by a team that finished last season with a 13−14 record. The Jumbos battled back by scoring nine of the next 13 points to cut the lead to seven with almost eight minutes left in the first half.
From there, though, the Generals closed out the half strong with a three from sophomore forward Patrick O’Connor with less than a minute to go, pushing the lead to 15 by a score of 37−22.
Senior center Matt Lanchantin, who contributed nine points and seven boards to go along with his all−tournament selection, attributed the slow start to an inability for the offense to get comfortable.
“[Washington and Lee] double−teamed on the ball screens heavily and we had trouble adjusting to that since it was the first time we encountered defense like that this year,” Lanchantin said. “This prevented us from getting our offense into motion and led to a lot of turnovers that resulted in easy points for the other team.”
Coming into the second half, the Jumbos knew they weren’t out of the game, and their goals were to get stops and limit turnovers, as well as to play with a sense of urgency that was lacking in the first half.
Ferris led the charge to start the second half, and the Jumbos cut the Generals’ lead to 10 at 42−32. But Washington and Lee kept making the baskets it needed, and Tufts could not get stops at crucial moments of the game.
In fact, Tufts failed to get within eight of Washington and Lee all half. With the score 49−41 with under eight minutes to go in the game, the Generals stomped out the last comeback attempt of the game with a three from guard Jayon McDonald and a layup from O’Connor to regain a 13−point lead.
“We weren’t able to get stops on defense at crucial times,” Ferris said. “We cut the lead to eight and then became complacent and let them push the lead back to 10 and we couldn’t overcome after that.”
The loss left Tufts playing Brooklyn College on Sunday in the consolation round, a position the team was not expecting to be in entering the weekend.
The Jumbos came out motivated and hungry, opening the game with a 22−6 run. The difference in intensity and focus against Brooklyn compared to Washington and Lee was palpable.
“We changed our mindset and played with the mentality that we simply couldn’t lose,” Ferris said. “That’s how we got off to such a quick start. Different guys were scoring the ball, everyone was getting involved and we were playing great team defense.”
“The first game was a wake−up call that no one really expected, so that made everyone focus a lot more and come out sharper,” Lanchantin added.
Senior co−captain Scott Anderson led the charge with a team−high 18 points, and he was joined in double figures by Ferris with 13 and sophomore guard C.J. Moss with 15.
Despite the offensive outburst, Tufts found itself up only nine at halftime, and after an 11−4 Brooklyn run to start the second half, that lead was cut down to 40−38. However, a Tufts response capped by a layup from Moss pushed the lead to 14 with eight minutes to go.
Tufts was then able to maintain its lead thanks to some clutch free−throw shooting from Anderson, Ferris and junior guard Oliver Cohen who went a combined 8−for−8 in the final minute.
However, Ferris still saw room for improvement after the win.
“We had the same lapses in that game as we did in the first game and as we did last year,” Ferris said. “We were up by 16 and instead of pushing that lead to 30, we let them cut it to nine at halftime. Teams like Amherst and Middlebury don’t let teams do that to them.”