Men's Basketball | Tufts goes on late run to beat Bowdoin in quarterfinals
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 01:02
After finding his team down six points in the second half to the Bowdoin Polar Bears Saturday afternoon in the NESCAC tournament quarterfinals, one thought went through senior co−captain Scott Anderson’s head: “Not again.”
“In my mind, I thought of the past years and how we’ve let games slip like that,” Anderson said. “I think the one thing our team has focused on all year is to not let games like that get away. This team is not one to give up right away, and that’s why we have been so successful.”
So instead of repeating the experience, the Jumbos managed to rally past the Polar Bears in the final 10 minutes in a 24−8 game−ending run, launching the team into the conference semifinals for the first time since their trip to the title game in the 2005− 2006 campaign.
Although they had to mounted a late comeback, Tufts controlled most of Saturday’s contest and the entirety of the first half, in part due to a confident mindset.
“Last year, we lost the last three coming into this game, and we were pretty nervous, [we were] playing not to lose,” sophomore guard Ben Ferris said. “This year, we’ve been winning a lot of our games, so we feel like we are going to win every [one].”
The team’s confidence was evident from the opening tip, as Tufts shot just under 60 percent from three in the first half, with Ferris and Anderson contributing 13 and 15, respectively. Some shaky defense, a problem for the Jumbos all year, allowed Bowdoin to remain within striking distance and let them shoot 57.1 percent from three and just under 50 percent from the field in the first half. Nevertheless, Tufts went into the break with a lead, 43−37.
“We wanted to play better defense in the second half,” Anderson said. “We were playing well on offense and knew we could score on them, but we really wanted to play better defense — which was easier said than done.”
Bowdoin came out firing in the second half and, after hitting their first three shots from beyond the arc, the Polar Bears took the lead on a dunk from sophomore center John Swords, 58−56. The Polar Bears continued to extend their lead until, with 10 minutes to go, they went up 64−58, with no signs of slowing down.
But when the Jumbos made a switch on their defensive assignments, they began to clamp down on the Polar Bears, as neither of Bowdoin’s guards scored in the final 10 minutes of the game, marking another strong defensive performance in the clutch.
“They were scoring almost every possession, and that’s been our biggest issue all year, getting stops,” Ferris said. “When it really comes down to it though, we’re able to get stops, and we proved that to ourselves.”
On the offensive end, the Jumbos came alive to finish the game strong and snuff out the Polar Bears’ chances of an upset. Cohen dished out seven of his career−high 10 assists from that game in the second half, and senior big man Matt Lanchantin scored seven crucial points in the second half that helped Tufts surge ahead of Bowdoin.
Ferris and Anderson both had big games, scoring 24 and 20 points, respectively, but credited the stingy defense down the stretch as the key to the win against Bowdoin.
Tufts will face a much taller task this upcoming Saturday in the semifinals, when they travel to meet an Amherst team that averaged 84.4 points per game in the regular season and beat Tufts 100−89 at LeFrak Arena back on Feb. 2.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge, because Amherst has a high powered offense, but we know we’re going to score,” Ferris said. “We put up 89 on them last time, but the problem was just they put up 100. If we can focus on every possession this time around,and rise to the challenge of getting stops, I think we’ll definitely win.”