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

Men's basketball opens league play with win over Bates

Juniors Brian Shapiro and Mike McGlynn combined for 22 points over the last nine minutes, including overtime, to give the Jumbos a 111-104 win over the Bates Bobcats Saturday afternoon. Tufts improved to 10-5 with the win, rebounding from Thursday's 20-point loss to UMass-Dartmouth.

The game snapped the Bobcats' eight-game winning streak, while the Jumbos picked up their first conference victory of the season.

"It was a great win," coach Sheldon said. "They threw a lot of stuff at us, but we answered everything. It was like a big heavyweight battle out there. But I wasn't worried too much about bouncing back because I knew that we'd get into league play and we'd be at home, so we'd be okay."

The Jumbos trailed 83-75 with under four minutes remaining, but a three-pointer from McGlynn, who had a season-high 31 on the day, kicked off a 13-5 Tufts run which closed out regulation with a tie at 88. After the Bobcats hit one of two from the line, the Jumbos converted on six consecutive free throws to even the score at 84. Two of those came on a flagrant foul called on Bates guard Brian Gerrity for stepping on freshman Craig Coupe's head after the two fell to the floor. The foul sparked the Jumbos' emotions and skyrocketed their level of intensity.

"I think we needed something like that to get us fired up," Shapiro said. "We'd been playing a little flat, and we outscored them by a lot after that happened, so we definitely stepped up hardcore."

Shapiro scored five of the team's last six points in regulation, and continued the surge as the overtime period opened. He connected from downtown to start the scoring before hitting junior guard Jim Wilson on an alley-oop lay-in to give Tufts a five-point lead. After a Bates jumper made it 93-90, Shapiro hit another three to push the lead to six, and the Bobcats would not get within a single possession again. Tufts went 11-12 from the free throw line in overtime to seal the victory.

"I wasn't doing too much at the beginning, so it was nice to contribute towards the end like that," Shapiro said. "Mike McGlynn, too, kept us in the game in regulation. We all worked together and fought back."

Tufts was up by four at the half, and pushed the lead to as high as eight on a steal and fast-break lay-up by Shapiro with 16:27 to play. But the Bobcats clawed their way back into the game, pulling to within one at 65-64. Wilson, who finished with a career-high 21, hit two free throws to take the lead back to three, but Bates then rattled off 11 straight points to go up 75-67.

McGlynn hit two of his seven threes on consecutive possessions to bring the Jumbos back within two. But Bates answered with a run of its own, pushing the score to 83-75 with 4:25 to go before Tufts' run down the stretch.

The two teams got off to a slow start, with the Jumbos scoring just twice in the first four minutes. But both sides slowly heated up, and remained neck-and-neck until a 6-0 Bates run halfway through the period made it 26-20. The Bobcats held the advantage through most of the half, leading by as many as nine, at 43-34, with five minutes left. But Tufts caught fire as the period came to a close, scoring 15 points in the last 3:35 to go into the break up 54-50.

The Jumbos shot a blistering 55.9 percent in the first half, including 7-13 from downtown. McGlynn led the charge with 13, while Wilson had nine and Shapiro and freshman Reggie Stovell had eight apiece.

The four, along with Coupe, all finished the game in double-digits. Shapiro, who ended up with 23, also had eight assists and seven rebounds, while Coupe finished with 12 points, 15 boards, and six blocked shots. McGlynn was 8-14 on the day (7-11 three pointers) and 8-8 from the line.

Bates had six players in double figures, led by senior forward Alex Wilson, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore Ramon Garcia, with 18 points and six assists. Tufts' 111 points were the most for a Jumbo team since a 112-80 win over Bates five years ago.

Another positive for the Jumbos was their 17 turnovers - two fewer than the 19 they had in the first half of Thursday night's game, when they finished with 31.

"We talked about it and worked a little bit in practice, but I think it was more of a mental thing," Sheldon said of his team's improvement in holding onto the ball. "I think we were just ready to play more [Saturday]."

The Jumbos will not play again until Friday, when they travel to Trinity to face the Bantams. Tufts will then move to Amherst Saturday before returning home to host Keene State the following Tuesday.