The Tufts men’s basketball team had a highly successful stretch of games over winter break, competing in six and winning five, including two in-conference wins.
Tufts played its first game against Yeshiva University in New York City on Dec. 29th. The Maccabees' record stood at 8–6 coming into the game, and they proved a moderate test for the Jumbos. Tufts held the lead for the majority of the first half by a margin of 4 points, but increased that lead to 8–10 points at the end of the half to go into halftime leading 34–23. Yeshiva scored 15 points at the start of the second half to take the lead back, and the game proceeded in back and forth fashion. In the middle of the second half, the Jumbos reestablished their control of the game and the final score ended 75–64. First-year guard James Marakis scored 12 points off of the bench along with five rebounds. Sophomore forward Trumann Gettings also had a solid game, scoring 10 and grabbing nine rebounds.
In their second contest of the break, the Jumbos faced the Connecticut College Camels in their conference opener. Tufts had won their last nine matchups against Connecticut, but this time proved to be different.
“I think anytime you're going into a NESCAC play, it’s definitely an elevated level of intensity that you’ve got to bring,” senior guard Theo Henry said. “I think they brought that more than we did.”
Tufts started with the lead but quickly relinquished it to the Camels. Poor shooting made it difficult for the Jumbos to mount any sort of comeback, as they shot just eight of 24 from the field. They entered halftime trailing by 8 points. Those 8 points would prove to be the final difference between the two teams, as both scored 34 in the second half to end the game 63–55. Gettings once again had a solid game, with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Tufts faced an easier test in the New England College Pilgrims. With a record of just 2–10 going in, the Pilgrims had struggled throughout the start of their season. The game was close for the first 10 minutes of play, but after that Tufts pulled away and didn’t look back. They led by 21 points at halftime. In the second half, the Jumbos eased off a bit, but ended up winning by a 30 point margin. Tufts improved greatly from the field compared to their previous game, shooting 61% from the field and 42% from 3-point range. Senior guard Dylan Thoerner led the team with 19 points.
The next game was another conference matchup, this time against the Amherst Mammoths. Amherst had a 1–1 conference record and an overall record of 5–8 coming into the game. Both teams shot poorly throughout the game, with the Jumbos posting a 25% field goal percentage, but they were able to tough it out for a win.
“We brought the intensity, we were the tougher team, we won the rebounding battles,” Henry said of the wins against New England College and Amherst. “Those are two really big teams, so we knew we had to integrate with boxing out and with rebounding.”
The following day, the Jumbos faced the Hamilton Continentals in yet another NESCAC game. Hamilton looked to be a tougher contest, coming with an overall record of 10–6 and having won two of their three conference games. The first half was a close affair, and Tufts went into halftime leading by 7 points. The Continentals cut into that lead in the second half, keeping the pressure on the Jumbos to continue scoring. Tufts edged out a lead midway through the second half and were able to just hold on until the end of the game. Hamilton made key shots to keep the score close, but a foul on senior guard Tyler Aronson right at the end of the game allowed the Jumbos to take a 3 point lead. The Continentals’ desperate 3-point shot at the buzzer failed to go in and the game ended 57–54 in favor of the Jumbos. Aronson had a great game, scoring 19 points and getting four steals.
In their last game of the break on Jan. 16, Tufts faced the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Once again, an out of conference opponent proved not too difficult for the Jumbos to defeat. Everybody on Tufts’ roster contributed and the scoring was evenly distributed across the team. First-year forward Scott Gyimesi grabbed 11 rebounds in a solid performance. The game stayed moderately close until halftime, when the Jumbos found a spark and pulled away. They scored a season-high 103 points, winning the game by 34.
Much of the rest of the Jumbos’ schedule consists of NESCAC matchups and the team will look to continue their toughness. They now have an overall record of 13–3 and a conference record of 2–1. They will visit Bates on Saturday and then visit both Williams and Middlebury the following weekend.
“[If] we win those two games then we’re set up for huge success moving forward in the NESCAC and beyond,” Henry said. “So, these next two weeks in many ways can define the rest of our season.”