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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Men's basketball claws past Panthers

For the second consecutive weekend, the men's basketball team split a pair of NESCAC games. On Friday, the Jumbos fell to the Williams Ephs, ranked 24th in the nation, by a score of 85-69. Williams now stands in third place in the NESCAC with a 19-4 record (6-2 NESCAC) after losing to Bates College on Saturday. Following the loss to Williams, Tufts took on Middlebury on Saturday, and came back from a six-point halftime deficit to win, 103-88. Middlebury fell to 11-12 (3-5) and dropped into seventh place in the NESCAC.

Tufts emerged from the weekend with a 12-10 overall record, to go along with a 3-4 conference mark. The Jumbos are currently tied with Amherst for fifth place in the NESCAC, and are in good standing for a postseason birth.

On Friday, Williams jumped out to an early 7-5 lead on a three pointer by junior co-captain Tim Folan at 17:18 in the first half. The Ephs would not trail again for the remainder of the game. Williams led by as many as 11 points on three different occasions in the first half. The last of these came following a three-point shot by sophomore Michael Crotty that put the Ephs up 48-37 with 1:14 left in the half.

Crotty was 4-6 from three-point land with 14 points in the first half, en route to a 25 point performance on the night. Two free throws from junior Mike McGlynn, who scored 17 points in the first half for Tufts, closed the gap to nine points, sending the Jumbos into halftime trailing 48-39.

In the second half, Tufts came within eight points after a layup by freshman Craig Coupe made the score 52-44. Williams quickly extended the lead to 15 before McGlynn nailed back-to-back three pointers to bring the deficit back down to nine, 61-52 with 13:49 left to play. The Jumbos would get no closer, however, as the Ephs would lead by as many as 19 on their way to the 16 point victory.

"We fought hard, but we made some mental mistakes," coach Bob Sheldon said. "We'd make a comeback and get it down to 11 or ten or nine, and then we'd throw it away. We'd play a good stand of defense, and then we'd throw the outlet away. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot."

McGlynn led all scorers in the game, finishing with 26 points. Junior Jim Wilson was the only other Jumbo in double figures, tallying ten points on the night. Coupe added nine points, eight rebounds, and four blocks in the effort.

Against Middlebury, the Jumbos trailed for nearly the entire first half, after the Panthers went up 7-6 at 16:54. Middlebury shot 20-22 from the free throw line during the first stanza, and junior Eric Bundonis finished the half with 22 points, as the Panthers led 51-45 at the break.

In the second half, the Jumbos took their first lead since the early minutes of the game when a McGlynn three put Tufts up 59-58 with 15:08 remaining to play. The McGlynn three was part of a 10-0 run by the Jumbos which gave them a 64-58 lead at 13:10.

The Panthers fought back to tie the score at 73, but sophomore Deyvehn East hit a jumper to ignite a 9-1 run, which was capped by a three pointer by junior Brian Shapiro. The burst left the Jumbos up 82-74 with 6:33 remaining in the game. Middlebury managed to narrow the gap to 84-80 with 5:12 remaining, but Tufts proved too much to handle. The Jumbos extended their lead to 91-80 and didn't look back as they reached the century mark for the third time this season.

McGlynn lead the way once again for Tufts with 25 points as one of five Jumbos in double figures. Shapiro followed McGlynn with 24 points, and East contributed career-high 15. Coupe and freshman Reggie Stovell each registered double doubles, with ten rebounds each and 12 and ten points respectively.

Bundonis led all scorers with 28 points, while McGlynn totaled 51 points over the course of the weekend, continuing his torrid stretch of play in NESCAC games.

"It's phenomenal because in NESCACs they scout the hell out of everybody," Sheldon said. "They know coming in that he's gonna fire threes, and he's still getting 23 or 24 points a game. He's a great player, and he's doing a good job for us. We're gonna keep getting him the ball as much as we can."

The win over Middlebury puts the Jumbos in a good position heading into the end of the season. The top seven teams in the NESCAC make the tournament; Tufts currently stands in fifth place, ahead of Middlebury. With the toughest part of its schedule already over, the Jumbos are optimistic for the future.

Tufts does not play again until next weekend, when the team will finish the regular season with two home NESCAC showdowns. On Friday, the Jumbos will host Weslyan at 7 p.m., and on Saturday they will take on Connecticut College at 3 p.m.