Men's Basketball | Tufts takes third place at Big Four Challenge
Published: Monday, November 26, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 26, 2012 07:11
The men’s basketball team went 2-1 over Thanksgiving break, starting with a bang before earning a weekend split at Brandeis in the Big Four Challenge.
On Tuesday, the Jumbos beat Regis, 67-36, allowing what is believed to be the fewest points by an opponent since the 1957-58 season, according to the Tufts Athletics Department. And yesterday, in the consolation game of the New England Big Four Challenge at Brandeis, Tufts breezed past Babson 83-58 to improve to 3-2 overall.
But what happened in between still has the Jumbos shaking their heads. In the first round of the Big Four tournament on Saturday, Brandeis pulled away from Tufts late to take an 84-69 victory.
Once the Jumbos fell behind in the second half on Saturday, their ball movement and overall cohesiveness disappeared.
“When we get down on ourselves in a close game, we kind of get rattled, thinking, ‘I need to dribble and take a shot,’” sophomore guard Ben Ferris said. “It’s easy to share the ball when we’re up 20 — like it was against Babson in the second half — but games like Brandeis, where we’re in a close game the whole time and we get down by six all of a sudden, it [should be] like, ‘Okay, now we really need to work the ball.’”
Though Tufts struggled on offense, a transcendent performance by Brandeis point guard Gabriel Moton is what ultimately made the difference. Moton, a junior transfer from Boston College, scored 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. He was 5-for-6 from the free-throw line, grabbed 10 rebounds and had four assists.
With less than nine minutes left and the Judges up 60-57, Moton went off, scoring 10 of his team’s next 12 points to spark a 22-6 run.
The Jumbos also got into foul trouble and the Judges capitalized, going 23-for-27 from the line and attempting nearly twice as many free throws as Tufts.
Senior co-captain forward Scott Anderson had an efficient performance to lead the Jumbos, scoring 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, but only he and sophomore guard C.J. Moss reached double figures.
But after the tough loss, the Jumbos regained their rhythm against the Beavers yesterday, with five players — including three non-starters — scoring double-digit points. The Jumbos shot just 39.4 percent in the first half and went into the locker room up 30-29, but from there the shots started to fall and the offense started to click.
So far, the Jumbos have found the most success by putting trust in each other and in their offense.
“We played together for the last 20 minutes of that game,” Anderson said. “We were working the ball around. When our plays weren’t working, we weren’t forcing things up with more time on the clock; we would go into another play. I think it just came down to all playing together.”
While Anderson and Moss had just two points apiece, some different faces stole the spotlight.
Freshman guard Stephen Haladyna scored a team-high 13 points, and junior forward Tommy Folliard, senior center Matt Lanchantin and sophomore guards Oliver Cohen and Kwame Firempong all reached double digits.
Lanchantin has been the biggest surprise of the early season, posting 8.8 points and seven boards per game after a year in which he averaged under two in both categories.
“Matt Lanchantin has been the most consistent guy on our team by far,” Anderson said. “We came into the season just wanting him to be a solid guy for us, but I think that three out of the five games he’s been the best player. He’s been awesome down low.” Another encouraging sign was the performance of senior guard Alex Goldfarb, who had nine points on three 3-pointers to mark his highest scoring output since Dec. 6, 2011.
“He’s certainly our best 3-point shooter,” Ferris said of Goldfarb. “I don’t think it’s shown so far in his percentages, but we all have faith in him. He really helped us [Sunday], and I’m glad some of them finally went down.”
While balanced offense was the story on Sunday, last Tuesday it was all about defense. The Jumbos won 67-36 at Regis, the same score by which they beat Wesleyan the last time they allowed so few points, 55 years ago.
The Jumbos’ 31-point margin of victory was also their largest since Dec. 2, 2008, when they beat Lesley 92-52.
Tufts flat-out bullied Regis, forcing 21 turnovers and allowing just 10 points in the paint. Though the Pride are by no means a powerhouse, there was a lot to like for the Jumbos on the defensive end.
“C.J. Moss played really well on their leading scorer [junior guard Ryan Chambers],” Ferris said. “He really pressured him on the perimeter and made him put it on the floor, which is what we want to do. We need to carry those things over to when we play good teams.”