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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Tufts men’s basketball falls to Amherst, Hamilton in NESCAC play

The Jumbos fell to the Mammoths 64–54 and the Continentals 87–82.

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Scott Gyimesi is pictured in the Jan. 5 game against Connecticut College.

The Tufts men’s basketball team was in a winning mood after its win at home against Clark University, knowing its next six games were away. The first three against UMass Dartmouth, University of Saint Joseph and No. 5-ranked Keene State were all wins. The squad then headed to the Kingsmen Classic just after Christmas to Thousand Oaks, Calif., where they were scheduled to take on California Lutheran University and UT Dallas. Tufts took its first loss of the season, losing to Cal Lutheran 70–66, before bouncing back to beat UT Dallas 84–72. 

Coming back to the East Coast, Tufts handed a loss to Colby Sawyer College before taking a loss at the hands of Connecticut College, making its NESCAC record 0–1. Tufts came back just two days later to beat Emmanuel College, ending its non-conference schedule. 

On Friday, the Tufts Jumbos took on the Amherst College Mammoths away from home, and the game was extremely close. The lead throughout the game swayed between the two teams, never stretching to larger than 6 points. With 2:24 left in the game, Amherst took the lead and charged forward, taking a 9-point run started by two free throws from forward Charlie Randall. He quickly added a 3-pointer to his total, extending Amherst’s lead. An additional four free throws by guard Marc Garraud gave the Mammoths the 9-point lead they ended the game with. Randall had 16 points and played for 21 minutes. Defensively, guard Chris Hammond had 9 points and three steals for the Mammoths. On the Jumbos’ side of the ball, junior guard Khai Champion led the offense, scoring 15 points and playing for 29 minutes, while sophomore forward Scott Gyimesi, senior guard Jay Dieterle, senior guard Casey McLaren and first-year guard Jon Medley all had two steals, helping with the defensive efforts.

“We were a little stagnant. We were rushing a little bit. We weren't moving the ball side-to-side like we historically have this past year and that hurt us in the first half and it really hurt in the second half. I want to say we only scored about 54 points against Amherst,” Gyimesi said.

On Saturday, Tufts challenged Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. and fell by five points. Tufts led throughout the entirety of the first half. Its biggest lead occurred with only around four minutes left on the clock, where the Jumbos were up by 9 points. Hamilton put up a 7-point run to answer, keeping the game close. At halftime, the score was 37–34, with the momentum seemingly being in the hands of the Jumbos. Hamilton refused to give up the momentum, and Garret Keyhani put up a jumper in the paint to tie the score at 40 in the beginning of the second half.

The second half was a struggle for the Jumbos. “We started off slow again. They kinda just punched us. They went on like an 8–0 run, a 10–0 run, and there was no fight back,” sophomore guard James Morakis said. He continued that he thought the Jumbos needed to do better defensively, as well. “Defensively, it's been a little rough. I mean, we gave up like 80 points to Hamilton on Saturday.”

For the next eight minutes, the game stayed relatively close, but a 9–2 run from the Continentals with 12 minutes left in the game led by guard Teja Singh and Keyhani gave them a 9-point lead. Another layup by Singh two minutes later extended their lead to 12 points. A series of 3-pointers by Dieterle, sophomore guard Sidney Wooten and Medley — along with two from Champion — allowed the Jumbos to slowly claw the lead back. With just two seconds to go in the game, it was a one-possession lead for the Continentals, thanks to Wooten’s 3-pointer. Two good free throws by junior guard Hank Morgan — who had been put on the line by Tufts — extended the Hamilton lead to five, where the game would end. Stats-wise, Morakis led the scoring for the Jumbos, scoring 16 points, including going 7 for 10 from the free throw line. Champion had 14 points, and Scott Gyimesi achieved his fifth straight double-double, with 10 points and 11 rebounds. This game also had a season-high 11 3-pointers from the Jumbos.

On the Hamilton side, both Keyhani and Morgan had 26 points against Tufts. Keyhani shot 10 for 19 from the field, and went 2 for 4 from behind the arc, tying his career high. Hamilton shot 7 for 21 on 3-pointers from behind the arc, and 32–70, or 45.7%, from the field. In contrast, Tufts shot 27 for 63 from the field, or 42.8%. Singh, a critical player for the Continentals, also had 21 points on the day with 6 attributed to 3-pointers.

Tufts is well and truly in NESCAC play now and has a series of three home games starting on Saturday, when it will take on Bates. Six days later, it will take on Williams, and then finally, a day later, it will take on Middlebury. Afterward, Tufts heads away from home to take on Colby and Bowdoin.