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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Men’s basketball splits doubleheader weekend at home

Tufts took a clutch overtime win against Wesleyan, but fell to Trinity the next afternoon.

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Jon Medley is pictured in the Feb. 9 game against Wesleyan.

Tufts men’s basketball looked to conclude their regular season on a high note in games against Wesleyan Cardinals and Trinity Bantams over the weekend. Walking into the Friday evening game, the Jumbos knew they needed a win against the Cardinals in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Cardinals sat at 12–10 for the season going into Friday, while the Jumbos had the record of 17–5.

Tufts started on the slower side of things, with Wesleyan piling on the points in the first four minutes. Wesleyan scored 10 of the 14 points in the opening possessions. A layup from sophomore center Joshua Bernstein and 4 points from junior guard Khai Champion brought the Cardinals back to a tied ballgame. The momentum swung back into the hands of Tufts, with a 3-pointer from first-year guard Dylan Reilly and a 3-pointer from sophomore guard James Morakis to make the game 20–14. Junior guard Nicky Johnson responded with a 3-pointer for the Cardinals, but it was once again James Morakis who added to the Jumbos’ tally, extending the lead again to 6 on the game. Control of the game sat in the hands of the Jumbos, especially when senior guard Jay Dieterle and sophomore forward Scott Gyimesi put shots up from behind the 3-point line that both went in.

At the end of a 3-point-heavy first half, the score sat 34–26 in favor of Tufts. Wesleyan was not to be outdone starting the second half through. Two 3-pointers in quick succession by junior guard Shane Regan and Johnson after three minutes of play cut the lead down to just 3, and a minute later sophomore forward Fritz Hauser cut the lead to just one. Similar to how a pendulum swings back and forth, the momentum once again swung in the opposite direction, landing in the talons of the Cardinals. Wesleyan pushed their lead to 3, but that wouldn’t stand for long.

The lead continued to swing back and forth, never extending beyond 4 points for the rest of regulation. First-year guard Jon Medley put in a 3-pointer to make the game 65–64 in favor of the Jumbos. Again not to be outdone, Johnson shot a three with 41 seconds left and made it, making the score 67–65 in favor of Wesleyan. With just a mere 10 seconds left on the clock, Bernstein caught a pass in traffic under the rim and put up a reverse layup, tying the score and sending the game to overtime.

“I was pretty confident in us. I knew that they missed some free throws down the stretch, and we sort of got lucky with that. Josh [Bernstein] had a huge play, down low to tie the game and I felt the momentum on our side,” Gyimesi said.

The control of overtime sat firmly in the hands of the Jumbos. A series of layups, jumpers and free throws by players like Bernstein, Champion and Dieterle took the game beyond the reaches of the Cardinals, ending the game 82–70 in favor of the Jumbos. This was a notably important win for the Jumbos, as it clinched a playoff spot for the squad and improved their chances of playing again in Cousens Gymnasium during the NESCAC and NCAA tournaments.

The Jumbos shot 30-for-70 from the field and went 7-for-22 from behind the arc, while in contrast, the Cardinals shot 27-for-71 from the field and 10-for-23 from behind the arc. Gyimesi led points for the Jumbos with 17, Bernstein had 15 and Champion had 14. On the Cardinals’ side of the ball, Regan had 25 points, Johnson had 15 and Hauser had 10. 

Tufts then took on the powerful Trinity Bantams on Saturday, who up until this point had lost only one game, and played a solid game, scoring nearly the same number of points as the Bantams in the second half. Unfortunately, with a 20-point deficit racked up in the first half, the Bantams sealed the game with a score of 82–66 in the end.

The weekend games set the team up to go into the NESCAC playoffs at 5–5 in the conference.

“We still are enjoying where we’re at, but doing everything that we can to prepare ourselves, put ourselves in a good situation for this weekend and, if all goes well, hopefully the next,” Gyimesi said.

The Jumbos now will take on Middlebury College at home in the first round of the NESCAC playoffs on Saturday afternoon.