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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Men’s basketball falls to Trinity in NESCAC semifinal, turns toward NCAA Tournament

A competitive battle with the Bantams ends in a Jumbos loss, but a chance to extend their season in the Big Apple lies ahead.


James Morakis is pictured in the Feb. 17 game against Middlebury.

Men’s basketball came up short in a back-and-forth battle against the Trinity College Bantams in the semifinal game of the NESCAC tournament, but the team’s strong offensive performance is building momentum as NCAA tournament play approaches. Tufts entered the contest as the No. 4 seed in the conference, primed to face off against the No. 2 seed Trinity in a rematch of Tufts’ competitive Senior Day game that ended in a close loss. Although the Tufts defense managed to limit Trinity’s leading scorer — forward/center Ben Callahan-Gold — to only 4 points, a late 12–2 run by the Bantams sent them to the conference championship.

“Earlier in the year, the first time we played them, we knew that wasn’t really us,” sophomore forward Scott Gyimesi said. “We had had a long overtime game the night before against Wesleyan, so we knew just getting back to it and getting back to our tendencies as a team and playing together, that’s what we needed. … We were able to hang with them and get closer than we did the first time.”

Sophomore guard James Morakis led the scoring for the Jumbos with 19 points, followed closely by Gyimesi’s 18. Combined with his 10 rebounds, Gyimesi notched his 18th double-double performance of the season, and his offensive production kept the score close throughout the contest.

“I thought we played a pretty solid offensive game,” Gyimesi said. “We moved the ball well [and] we got each other involved. Unfortunately, we just weren't able to take care of the defensive end.”

The lead changed hands eight times in the first half, but eight 3-pointers propelled Trinity to a 43–35 advantage at the break. Tufts came out strong in the second half, bringing the deficit to as little as one point multiple times. Despite consistently knocking on the door, the Jumbos ultimately paid the price for their 15 turnovers, as the Bantams outscored them on turnovers 25–11. Though the final outcome was disappointing, the game solidified Tufts’ team identity, which aided in Gyimesi’s offensive success and will be central to a strong performance in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

“This year is very unique in the fact that we had an entirely different starting lineup, so to begin this year we had to establish roles,” Gyimesi said. “We’re at [a] point right now where we know who we are as a team; we know who we are as individuals. [I’ve been] just letting the game come to me; I don’t think about it too much when I’m out there.”

Tufts received an at-large bid in the NCAA Selection Show on Monday and will play Stockton University on Friday at New York University. The Ospreys boast a 17–10 record on the year but most recently dropped their conference final game to The College of New Jersey with a final score of 75–62. Tufts and Stockton had very similar conference tournament journeys, which should make for a competitive matchup in the opening round.

“I think we have a chip on our shoulder in the sense that we know we can't afford a loss anymore because that means that our season’s over,” Gyimesi said. “There is no option now.”