The men’s basketball team braved the cold for a pair of conference matchups against the Colby College Mules and Bowdoin College Polar Bears last weekend. They fell by a single bucket to the Mules, but the next day they then iced out the Polar Bears to end the trip with a win. Tufts led 33–29 at the half against Colby on Friday behind sophomore forward Scott Gyimesi’s 8 points and two rebounds, setting the pace for what would become his 14th double-double of the season. Three consecutive 3-pointers by the Mules in the final minutes of the opening stanza brought the deficit to single digits. In the second half, the Mules burst onto the court with renewed momentum, taking an early lead. Tufts responded well as Gyimesi continued his clutch performance by executing on a 3-pointer, but the lead changed hands throughout the remainder of the contest, and Colby ultimately won out in the closing seconds.
Gyimesi led the scoring against Colby with 19 points, followed closely by senior guard Jay Dieterle’s 13.
“I think any time you go on a road for a NESCAC weekend it's really hard to go 2–0,” Dieterle said. “Colby's a good team. They shot a ton of threes, that was their game plan going into it, and they hit a lot of tough shots, so credit to them.”
While the Jumbos’ defense allowed the Mules to manage too many open threes, their offense worked well and gave them something to build on for Saturday’s game against Bowdoin.
“We learned from the loss on Friday like we always try to do and kind of spun it into a positive going into Saturday,” Dieterle said.
And the spin worked. Dieterle had the Polar Bears’ defense absolutely frozen on Saturday, scoring 19 points including four 3-pointers. Gyimesi posted yet another double-double, notching 16 second-half points along with 11 total rebounds to secure the dominant 77–52 victory.
“One thing that’s good about our team is we have so much depth, so every night, you never really know who's going to be the guy scoring the ball or making the biggest impact,” Dieterle said. “I kind of just hit a couple open [shots] to get going and then from there it just felt good and got more confident.”
The Jumbos shot 53.8% from behind the 3-point line in the first half, propelling them to a 30–25 lead at the break. The offense exploded in the final 20 minutes, scoring 47 points to put the game away.
Tufts returns to Cousens Gymnasium on Friday for the final home weekend of the regular season, facing Wesleyan University and Trinity College in important NESCAC matchups.
“We’re treating every game like a playoff game from here on out,” Dieterle said. “Nothing’s guaranteed for us as far as the NESCAC tournament or the NCAA tournament, so we gotta lock in. … We have two really good teams coming in that are also both fighting for those playoff chances, so I’m excited. It should be a fun weekend up here.”
Playing in Cousens has proven to be a great advantage for the Jumbos, as they have lost only one game to a NESCAC opponent on their home court this season.
“[The best part is] all the support we get. This year I’ve noticed we've got a lot of good crowds at all our home games,” Dieterle said. “I think we're all just a little bit more comfortable at home, on our home court in front of our home fans.”
Being back in the home of Tufts basketball this upcoming weekend means even more for Dieterle and his classmates, as the seniors who began their careers with a canceled 2020–21 season will celebrate their years on the team.
“My freshman year, not having a season, it’s like an abbreviated career,” he said. “It flies by, it’s cliché, but it literally does. … I’m excited for it, so hopefully we get a good turnout of students.”
Well, you heard him. See you in Cousens!