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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, February 26, 2024

Basketball




The Setonian
Basketball

Men's Basketball | After big victory, Tufts looks ahead to Clark

In its final game of 2005, the men's basketball team prepares to take on the Cougars of Clark University at Cousens Gymnasium at 2:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The Jumbos hope they can continue the winning ways they have had against Clark in the past. The team hasn't lost to Clark since 2002, and last year's close call, a 64-63 victory, is still fresh in their minds. The team heads into finals on a relatively positive note, although the end of the semester couldn't come sooner for the Jumbos, who are feeling the effects of a tough two-week stretch. "We're at the end of six games in two weeks - this game will be a real gut-check," coach Bob Sheldon said. The team fought hard last week to emerge with a three-game sweep of a homestand at Cousens, but followed it up with a tough two-game stretch against two of New England's top teams, Plymouth State and Keene State. "Those could be the two best teams in New England," said sophomore Jake Weitzen. The Jumbos had a five-game winning streak snapped Tuesday night, as they suffered a frustrating 103-77 loss at the hands of the Plymouth State Panthers. It was the Jumbos' first loss since Nov. 18, opening night against Wittenburg. Sheldon had nothing but praise for the Panthers, who remained undefeated with the tin, improving 6-0. "It was a really good team that got hot," Sheldon said. "There was nothing we could do." Instead of ending their road trip on a down note, however, the Jumbos managed a thrilling victory over Keene State last night. With the score tied at 94 and 44 seconds left to play, senior tri-captain Brian Fitzgerald scored on a lay-up to put the Jumbos up for good. The Panthers loss was their first on the season, and raised the Jumbo record to 6-2. Despite the difficult road trip, the team is confident it will continue its winning ways against Clark. "In a way, [the loss] was a good thing," Weitzen said. "Obviously a win would have been best, but we kind of needed a wake-up call." Clark is a team led by a pair of dominant seniors, guard Cory Szklarz and center Tim Dutille, each of whom averages 16 points a game. While the loss to Plymouth was a set back, the Keene State victory has given the Jumbos momentum as they head back home where they are a perfect 3-0 this season. "We love our gym," said Sheldon, of the friendly confines of Cousens. The Jumbos should be ready to go and, just as importantly, healthy. Senior tri-captain Dan Martin and junior forward Brian Kumf, who have both battled injuries recently, have bounced back in a big way. Both Martin and Kumf turned in strong performances at Plymouth State in a losing effort, as Martin scored 25 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Kumf turned in 11 points and eight boards of his own. A win tomorrow and the Jumbos will head into winter break and the continuation of their season in 2006 against tough NESCAC competition. Conference play begins on Jan. 13, as Tufts visits Colby. The battle for conference supremacy is up in the air. While the Lord Jeffs of Amherst are favored to take home a conference title, it remains unclear who will emerge as the other top teams in the conference. "As of right now, I think Amherst is number one," Weitzen said. "But there are a lot of teams that could pull off an upset. It depends on who shows up each night." But for now, the Jumbos are thinking about Clark, not NESCAC foes. Sheldon is confident that his squad is ready. "We're going to bounce back," Sheldon said. "We've just got to play our game and we'll be okay."- Sam Verrill contributed to this article


The Setonian
Basketball

Men's Basketball | Jumbos dominated by high-scoring Plymouth State Panthers

The men's basketball team's five-game winning streak came to a grinding halt on Tuesday night, as the Jumbos were dealt a lopsided 103-77 loss at the hands of the still-undefeated Plymouth State Panthers. Offense was the name of this game and Plymouth State had a lot of it. The Panthers lit up the scoreboard in both halves, shooting 65 percent from the field in the first half, and 70 percent in the second. The Jumbos couldn't create a run strong enough to go ahead, and the Panthers were able to maintain a double-digit lead through much of the first half and the entire second period. The Jumbos' offense was unable to make an impact, shooting a dismal 38 and 39 percent from the field in the first and second halves. The overall shooting performance was apparent in the box score, as senior tri-captain Dan Martin and junior forward Brian Kumf were the only Jumbo players to reach double digits with 25 and 11 points, respectively. Coach Bob Sheldon was disappointed with the loss, but was also able to take away a few positive aspects from the game. "[Plymouth State] was a very good team that just had a really hot night," Sheldon said. "Our offense wasn't too bad; it was more that our defense just couldn't stop them." Sheldon also described the game as a learning experience. "We just have to learn from this loss and use it to prevent something like this from happening again," Sheldon said. "We also have a few positives to take from the game, like the return of Dan Martin and our impressive rebounding performance." Rebounding was just about the only thing the Jumbos did better than their opponents, as the Jumbos out-rebounded the Panthers 39-23. But rebounds don't always translate to points, and the Jumbos now have to look ahead towards today's game against Keene State. The Owls have begun the season in sizzling form and will be facing Tufts with an untarnished 6-0 record. Sheldon is confident about Tufts' chances, but is not taking the high-powered team for granted. "[Keene State] likes to run and press a lot," Sheldon said. "So that is something that we're going to have work on in practice. They are very athletic and are playing extremely well lately." After having their longest winning streak in four years suddenly snapped, the Jumbos will have to regain their composure and play their own physical and athletic game in order to come out with a victory. "We need to play our own game," Sheldon said. "We didn't do that against Plymouth State and if we do that and get the win, it will be a big one." Only two games remain before the three-week winter break, and only four before the NESCAC season begins. The team jumps right into its conference schedule, playing four league teams in five games, and will want to enter that series with every possible advantage. Two wins this week and a 7-2 record will go a long way towards accomplishing that goal.


The Setonian
Basketball

Men's Basketball | Tufts wants to settle the score with Brandeis

After a bright start to the season, the men's basketball team hopes to continue its recent run of success as it hosts Brandeis University this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at Cousens Gymnasium. The Jumbos are looking to avenge the loss they suffered last year at Brandeis. Last season's contest proved to be a struggle for the Jumbos as they fell 87-72, despite a double-double performance by then-senior Reggie Stovell, who finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Senior tri-captain Dan Martin believes that the Jumbos' chances against the Judges are much better than last year. "We have a better team than last year," Martin said. "We're more mature and last year we weren't all on the same page. But this year it's seemed like we've picked up right where we left off so we are playing a lot better together." While the rest of the team is equally as confident about its chances against Brandeis, Martin says the team isn't taking anything for granted. "We're just taking one game at a time," Martin said. "When game day comes around, we'll look at the scouting reports, watch a few tapes and plan accordingly, but as for our mental attitude going into the game, it's the same as any other." It's a good thing the team isn't taking anything for granted, because Brandeis will likely offer stiff competition. Three of five players who started against the Jumbos last year return, two of whom recorded 18 and 23 point nights. However, this year's Jumbos squad has received contributions from all corners of the roster during its early-season success. One of those contributors has been sophomore Jake Weitzen, who along with Martin, is the Jumbos' top scorer for the season at 15.5 points per game. Weitzen believes that the Jumbos will match up well against Brandeis, noting a particular change in staff personnel that has made the teams' styles somewhat similar. "Actually, a former assistant coach at Tufts was a coach at Brandeis," Weitzen explained. "Because of that, they seemed to have recruited a similar team to us so it should prove to be an interesting game." Weitzen also stressed how important continued strong defensive play will be against their opponents on Saturday. "Our defense has been a lot better this year," Weitzen said. "We don't have to go out and score a bunch of points and we can now rely on our defense to make big stops when we need them to." The Jumbos hope momentum from their victory over Western New England on Tuesday will carry into Saturday's game as the young and talented squad looks to build upon their exciting start to the season. With contributions from the starting five, mixed with a solid and deep bench, the squad should have a good chance of toppling the team that beat them by a considerable margin last year.



The Setonian
Basketball

Men's Basketball | Successful first half pushes victorious Jumbos past WNEC

If the men's basketball team was rusty at all after taking a week off between games, it certainly didn't show it in Tuesday night's 91-81 win over Western New England College. With the win, the Jumbos showcased their dual threat of perimeter shooting and power in the paint to improve to 3-1 on the season. The team was led by a balanced offensive effort, as senior tri-captain Dan Martin and junior tri-captain Dave Shepherd highlighted a group of five Jumbos in double digits with 17 points apiece. Martin's inside play, coupled with sharp shooting from the outside, gave the Jumbos a 20-point lead in the first half, enough to hold on as the Golden Bears staged a comeback. "We had a great first half and we came out strong in the second half, but we kind of let it get away from us a little bit," Martin said. "But we won, and that's all that matters right now." The Jumbos got off to a quick start, jumping to a 12-5 lead with eight points from Martin, who scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half. With 6:28 left in the half, the senior got the crowd excited by catching an alley-oop from Shepherd on the far side of the rim, pulling it under the basket, and hitting a reverse layup on the other side of the basket. Playing against a team whose tallest starter was 6'6", the 6'8" Martin had a distinct height advantage enabling him to collect 14 rebounds in the game to complete a double-double. "We thought we were bigger and stronger and we feel we're bigger than most teams, so we want to go inside and take advantage of having Martin," Coach Bob Sheldon said. "We don't have that many big guys, so we have to take advantage of them when they're fresh and get it inside to them." While Martin beat the Golden Bears inside, it was the team's three-point shooting that really allowed the Jumbos to open a big lead. Seven different Jumbos hit three-pointers in the first half as the team shot seven of 11 from beyond the arc, part of an 11-of-23 performance from long range in the game. Sophomore point guard Jeremy Black hit all three of his attempts on his way to 11 points. "We're going to take the threes," Sheldon said. "We want to run down and get it out. The reason we want to take the threes and make them is that that will open up the inside and we can get it in to our big guys. That way, we can get it in and they can kick it out so we can have an inside-outside game. I think when the threes are dropping, we're a really good team." After taking the early 12-5 lead, the Jumbos scored 12 of their next 14 on three-pointers to open up a 26-12 advantage. While the Golden Bears responded with a seven-point run to close the gap to seven, the Jumbos pounced again, taking a 41-21 lead as junior Dacson Sears spun into the lane, put up a left-handed layup and drew a foul. Again, the Bears responded by scoring seven in a row, but the Jumbos closed the half strongly, taking a 50-32 lead as Martin went up with his right hand as time expired. The team picked up where it left off in the second half, extending the lead to 59-36. But the Bears would not go away, steadily chipping away and cutting the lead to 76-68 with 8:18 left. "We were running our stuff and then I think we got a little too happy with ourselves when we were ahead by 22 and we started to take some bad shots and throw the ball all over the place to let them back into the game," Sheldon said. The team turned the ball over 24 times, allowing the Bears opportunities to get back into the game. "We just let it get away from us," Martin said. "We didn't play our game. We got kind of caught up in their game for a little bit. Once crunch time came down, we got it back together and pulled off a big win." Midway through the second half, the team went without a score for nearly five minutes before sophomore Ryan O'Keefe took a pass from Martin on the break to the basket for an underhand layup. O'Keefe, who finished with 14 points on 6-of-17 shooting, went on a little one-man run, scoring six in a row to give the team an 82-68 lead. While the Bears whittled it down to eight, Sheldon was never worried. "We were a better team, and in the end we played harder," Sheldon said. "They played hard, too. I give them a lot of credit. I just felt that we were better and we were going to be okay." The Jumbos will go for 4-1 when they host UMass-Dartmouth at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Cousens Gym. Tufts will look for a repeat of its 78-66 win over the Corsairs last season.


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Basketball

Women's Basketball | Pesky Beavers stay close, but Jumbos hold on for 68-58 victory over Babson

The women's basketball team got 40 combined points from senior tri-captain Jessica Powers and junior guard Valerie Krah to hold off a pesky Babson team and secure a 68-58 win at home on Tuesday night. Both offenses started slowly, trading turnovers and missed shots on both ends of the court. Neither team got on the scoreboard until nearly three minutes into the game, when Powers drove the right side of the lane to put the Jumbos up early. Tufts has struggled in its first three games to consistently put together big offensive numbers. A good shooting team in past years, and with several offensive threats on both the perimeter and in the paint, Tufts can attribute much of this to early-season kinks. "We're getting open shots, and they'll fall for us eventually," junior guard Marilyn Duffy-Cabana said. "We have a lot of people who can come out and hit shots, and we don't want to discourage that. We're working on utilizing our speed and athleticism, and getting the ball up the court, not getting forced into a halfcourt set. We work well in the open court." Coach Carla Berube commented on the offensive play of her team, which shot just 32.1 percent from the floor on Tuesday and was unable to convert its quick tempo into fast-break points. "We didn't do a very good job in our break pushing the ball like we could have," Berube said. "I think that's where we're at our best, making plays in the open court. Babson did a great job of transition defense and stopping our fast break." Tufts' defense started aggressively, closing down the lanes and jumping out on shooters, and the Beavers were unable to score from the floor until nearly six minutes in, when a layup by Caitlin Bouyer gave them a 10-6 lead, their largest of the night. Tufts responded, picking up the pace to open a 22-15 lead, their largest of the evening until the game's final minutes. The Beavers called a timeout and emerged from the huddle to score six straight and end the first half trailing by just a single point, 24-23. Babson carried the momentum through to the second half, briefly grabbing a one-point lead and then forcing the sixth tie of the game before the Jumbos went back on top with a free throw from sophomore Jenna Gomez. Tufts never trailed again, but the edge remained in single digits until a free throw by Gomez in the final seconds gave the Jumbos the ten-point lead and the final 68-58 score. The Jumbos' performance at the foul line would prove to be the deciding factor in the game. Shooting 77 percent from the line, Tufts got 27 of its 68 points from free throws in a game in which it was actually outscored 43-41 from the floor. With 17 fouls committed by the Beavers, the opportunities were there and the Jumbos took advantage. Sinking 21 of 23 free throws in the final nine minutes, including 9-of-11 shooting from Powers, the Jumbos kept control of the game down the stretch to ward off a determined Babson squad. "That was great," Berube said. "It needs to happen. Free throws can win and lose games and for us to step up and hit them down the stretch was very promising." As the Beavers managed to find just enough offense to stay in the game, Tufts found some relief in the sharpshooting of Krah. After leaving the game less than a minute in with a leg injury, a heavily-taped Krah returned to score 18 second-half points, including ten points in the final three minutes. The junior's quick shots gave the Jumbos some breathing room as the Beavers turned up the intensity and provided an alternative to the set offense that the team has had some trouble establishing early in the season. "There are times that I think it's important to set up the offense, but we were having some trouble with that at times last night," Berube said. "[Krah] has the green light, especially if she's feeling it. If she's got a hot hand, let's go to her." Once again, the Jumbos' defense was strong, nabbing 11 steals and frustrating Babson's shooters around the perimeter and in the paint. The Beavers poked some holes early on with a few backdoor and weak-side baskets, but a timeout called by Berube got the Jumbos back on track defensively. "Defense is definitely a cornerstone of our team," Duffy-Cabana said. "We're not going to be successful unless we pull through with our defense. Even when the shots aren't falling, defense is something you can control. It's about how much you want the ball." "We're going to continue to work on our offenses, but we really pride ourselves on our defense," Powers said. "Good defense will really help our offense." The Jumbos will have to match their consistently strong defensive effort at the other end of the floor as the season progresses. Their offensive production thus far this season has been far below last year's 81.3 points per game average. While those wins came against arguably weaker competition, the Jumbos will look to develop more of an offensive rhythm as they approach winter break and their ensuing NESCAC opener. "We put in all new stuff in this year and we're still working on it," Powers said. "We don't always want to have to set up our offense; we want to be able to run past the other team and fast break, and that's coming along." "[The offense] is definitely progressing," Berube said. "We're not throwing our offenses out the window, but we have some things to work on to be ready for Wheaton on Saturday."


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Basketball

Women's Basketball | Jumbos oversome poor shooting

The women's basketball team's season opener was a little late and a little messy, but the team got the job done. After an officiating mix-up left what was supposed to be the team's matchup against Suffolk on Friday evening without any referees, the first round of the Tufts Invitational was moved to Saturday afternoon. In take two of the 2005-2006 season opener, the Jumbos won what was certainly not the prettiest game of basketball played in Cousens Gym, 58-39. The Tufts defense was the bright spot of the day, forcing 30 turnovers and holding the Rams to just 26.1 percent from the floor. The Jumbos recorded eight blocks and 15 steals, seven courtesy of junior Valerie Krah. "We really tried to concentrate on our defense," senior tri-captain Jessica Powers said. "We've only had two weeks of practice, so our offense is still coming together, but defense is just hustle, and we did a good job of that on Saturday." The Jumbos fared little better than the Rams on the offensive end, shooting just 33.3 percent from the floor. Powers was the only Tufts player in double digits, with 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting. With both teams struggling from the floor, the difference was the 23-shot advantage for the Jumbos and the 20 points they earned off Suffolk turnovers. The transition game has been a key centerpiece of coach Carla Berube's game strategy in years past, and the Jumbos' ability to not only read passes and shoot the lanes defensively, but to convert steals on the other end carried them through a day of shaky offense. "We're going to push it no matter what," Berube said. "I want us to play basketball. If we can push it every time, we'll push it. I definitely want us to be a fast-break team." "We want to be able to run past the other team, to get steals and get down to the offensive end right away," Powers added. "Even if it's not off a steal, just after [the other team] scores, we want to get it in quickly and get up the floor." The speed of the Jumbos' guards and the up-court vision came together for the Jumbos and helped compensate for shaky shooting. The Rams had a full-court press nearly the entire game and the pressure rattled the Jumbos early on, forcing quick shots and eight first-half turnovers as they tried to dribble through the press. But as the Jumbos set up their press break and passed around the Rams, it yielded some easy baskets. "In the beginning of the game, we definitely struggled [against the press]," senior tri-captain Katherine Miller said. "We couldn't get the ball across halfcourt that quickly, and we were trying to play a halfcourt game. We were throwing the ball away. In the second half, we started looking upcourt and passing well and fast-breaking the way we want to." "We started breaking their press when we finally started to look up the court over the top," Berube said. "It got us easy points, though it made us rush a little with our shots." Some of the poor shooting performance can be chalked up to early-season jitters and the jump from practice to game situations. "We definitely need work on our shooting," Miller said. "Poor shooting happens in the beginning of the season, and we also weren't used to shooting under pressure like that. We're generally a very good shooting team, and I think that will work itself out as the season goes on." The Rams scored the first two points of the game on a pair of foul shots by sophomore guard Katlyn Kletcha. But that was the last Suffolk lead of the game as a Powers layup and a jumper from junior forward Laura Jasinski put the Jumbos on top for good. The lead hovered in single digits until a shot from freshman Kim Moynihan gave Tufts a 29-19 halftime lead. The pesky Rams cut it to five on a free throw by sophomore Amanda Brown with 14:06 remaining. Over the next six minutes, the Jumbos broke open the game with a 16-4 run to stretch the lead to 17 and seal the win. While the game certainly highlighted some offensive weakness, the parity of scoring spread among the Tufts starters and subs is an encouraging sign. Behind Power's 13 points, Krah added nine, Moynihan put up eight in her collegiate debut, and seven of the eight other Jumbos that saw floor time contributed at least two buckets. With the tournament schedule pushed back, the Jumbos' second game against RPI was cancelled after the Red Hawks were unable to stay the extra day. Tufts suits up again tonight at 7:00 p.m. against Gordon at Cousens Gym. The Jumbos will look to return the defensive effort that carried them on Saturday and fill in some of the offensive holes. "I think we ran our stuff pretty well offensively, but we couldn't knock down open shots," Berube said. "That happens early in the year. We've got a lot to work on, but as long as defensive effort is like that every night, I'm happy." "We'll chalk it up to first-day jitters, and hopefully, in practice take a few more shots and get our offense going," Krah said. "On the offensive end, we definitely struggled, but to have a good defensive game and be able to capitalize on turnovers really helped us mentally. For our first game, we came out hard and found things to improve on, which is good. We're going to come out with another win."


The Setonian
Basketball

Men's Basketball | Offense recovers from season-opening loss to come out victorious with a 94-74 win

It took a game for the Jumbo offense to warm up, but when it finally did, the men's basketball team scored all the points it needed to recover from an opening day loss and come home from the Resler Tournament with a 1-1 record. After struggling offensively in a 69-55 loss to national No. 10 Wittenberg, the team recovered to knock off Alfred in the second game, 94-74. "We played really hard, we played great defense, and we out-worked our opponents," sophomore Jake Weitzen said. "Unfortunately, we shot horribly in the first game and that's what made us lose. In the second game, we got easier shots which allowed us to shoot a higher percentage." The offensive troubles from the opener against Wittenberg were nowhere to be found in the game against Alfred. The Saxons never led as Tufts raced out to a 17-point lead in the first half. Sophomore Ryan O'Keefe led a pack of five Jumbos in double digits with 24 points in just 18 minutes. O'Keefe got the Jumbos going early, adding five points to an early 7-2 lead. O'Keefe went on to score 22 first-half points on 10-12 shooting. "He was unstoppable in the first half," Weitzen said. "He was taking it to the basket, hitting threes, and making jumpers. That's not out of the ordinary for Ryan O'Keefe to do that, but when he does that, the other team doesn't have a chance." With 9:07 left in the first half, Alfred's Todd Dersham tipped in a shot to close the score to 29-22. Tufts responded, scoring nine straight points, including four from O'Keefe, to take control of the game. The Jumbos went on to take a 46-24 lead with 4:45 left in the half when senior Dan Martin hit back-to-back baskets. Martin chipped in 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks on 7-10 shooting for the day. Thirty seconds later, the team would extend the lead to 23 points with a layup by O'Keefe, but the Saxons went on an 8-2 run to close out the half down by 17. In the second half, Alfred tried to get back in the game, clipping the lead to 58-48 with 15:37 left. The Jumbos responded with a 17-2 run to take a 25-point lead with just over ten minutes remaining. Tufts eventually took a game-high 29-point lead on a three-point play by senior co-captain Brian Fitzgerald with 5:40 left. The Saxons closed out the game with an 11-2 run to make the score a little more respectable, but the outcome was never in question. "We saw them play the night before against Rochester and they looked awful, to be honest," Fitzgerald said. The Jumbos outshot the Saxons 54.7 percent to 40.7. When they did miss shots, Tufts stayed tough on the boards, collecting offensive rebounds on 22 of its 34 misses. Coach Bob Sheldon used the blowout as an opportunity to mix up his lineup, putting 15 players on the floor and keeping no player in for more than 24 minutes. The Jumbos received solid reinforcement in their subs, as the Tufts bench outscored the Alfred bench 37-13. "It was a good opportunity to get everyone in the game and get everybody some game time experience because we weren't playing the toughest team," Weitzen said. "It was somewhat of a practice." Sophomores Jeremy Black and Weitzen had solid games off the bench, contributing 12 and 19 points respectively. In only his second appearance as a Jumbo, after tearing his ACL right before his freshman year, Black hit four three-pointers and added five steals and an assist. Black made his debut in Friday's loss to Wittenberg, getting the start as Sheldon played three guards on the floor together. Playing against the tenth-ranked team in the country, the Jumbos struggled to find their offense. Only junior Brian Kumf was able to crack double digits in points, leading the team with 13. "I know we were really amped up heading into the game," Fitzgerald said. "We've been practicing since Nov. 1 and really since the end of last season for most of the guys, working out and lifting weights. This was our first chance to play an actual game. We were a little nervous and too psyched up." The team shot just 29 percent from the floor, just four of 21 from behind the arc, and didn't score until three and a half minutes into the game. By the time they got on the board, the Jumbos were already down 5-0 and spent the entire game playing from behind. "I know it wasn't all Wittenberg's defense [that caused us to shoot poorly] because we weren't hitting our shots in lay-up lines," Weitzen said. Despite shooting 29.6 percent in the first half, Tufts found itself down just 25-23. Wittenberg got off to a quick start in the second half, however, and took a 48-34 lead with 11:50 remaining. The Jumbos went on an eight-point run to cut it to six, but Wittenberg quickly extended the lead and, with just over five minutes left, took a 61-46 lead. The Jumbos could not get back into the game and dropped their season opener for the third straight year. "We showed that we could grit it out when we're not shooting well," Fitzgerald said. "We played alright defense, but we really missed an opportunity to get a big win." The Jumbos could have another opportunity for a big win when they take on Springfield tonight. Springfield has received numerous votes for the Top 25 poll, and has defeated the Jumbos each of the past two years.


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Basketball

Men's Basketball Wrap-Up | Tufts completes its turnaround season

Coming into the season, the men's basketball team knew it would be better than last year's team, but it achieved beyond expectations. The team finished 16-10, with a 7-2 record in NESCAC, losing only to Connecticut College and Amherst - the number two team in the country in Div. III - in NESCAC play. The record is a turnaround from last year, in which the Jumbos record was 8-17, with a conference record of 2-7. The Jumbos won nine games on the road this season, after managing only one victory away from Cousens last year. The Jumbos' biggest test of the year came as the team played on an eight game roadtrip that lasted from Jan. 18 to Feb. 5. During that stretch they went 5-3 and defeated three major conference opponents, including 2004 NCAA runner-up Williams. A big reason for the Jumbos' success was senior tri-captain Reggie Stovell. Thrust into a leadership role, he led the team in scoring with 18.2 points per game and in rebounding with 10.2 per game. In NESCAC play he averaged 21.3 points per game. Finishing third in the conference in scoring, Stovell was named to the All-Conference Team. His three NESCAC Player of the Week awards gave him two more than eventual NESCAC Player of the Year Andrew Schiel of Amherst. "It's going to be tough to replace Reggie," sophomore guard David Shepard said. "You can't just find 20 points and 10 rebounds. We've got some good guys who could step it up, but there's no question it's going to be a challenge." The consistency of Stovell on the boards was helped by another veteran, junior center Dan Martin. He was named NESCAC Player of the Week for his career performance against Colby in the first round of the NESCAC tournament, a game in which the center scored 26 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. The other senior captains, Drew Kaklamanos and Jesse Belodoff used their veteran experience to lead the team in crucial situations. Kaklamanos started all 26 games and scored 8.5 points per game. Kaklamanos is also considered by some players the best perimeter defender on the team. The team will need to replace two guards next year as Kaklamanos' departure is paired with that of Belodoff, a backup point guard. While the team will miss Stovell's scoring inside next year, it will find consolation in the development of its freshman guards. Freshman guards Jake Weitzen and Ryan O'Keefe averaged 11.1 and 10.9 points a game respectively, finishing second and third on the team in scoring. Weitzen's damage came exclusively off the bench. Also returning will be sophomore Brian Kumf, who was fourth on the team with 10.7 points per game. Coach Bob Sheldon once described him as "the most athletic player on the team." He started 21 games this year and captivated fans with his crashing drives to the basket. Sophomore David Shepherd was one of the more unsung heroes on the team. He only had 8.3 points per game, while starting all 26, but it was his assists and perfect inbounds passes that left a mark. He led the team and the conference in assists with 6.69 per game. He finished a full 1.42 assists ahead of the second place player in assists in the NESCAC, Middlebury's Simon Behan. And he triggered one of the most memorable plays of the season, throwing up a perfect lob for Martin from the inbound for the alley-oop in the team's 93-81 victory over Trinity on Feb. 11. The victory over Trinity completed a four game winning streak that put the Jumbos a season-high seven games over .500, an impressive feat considering that the team opened the season 1-3, before a string of three road wins propelled them to a winning record. Going into conference play, the team was on semi-shaky footing, having just lost to Brandeis. But they defeated Colby and Bowdoin to open conference play. Following a loss to Wheaton, the team again won three straight on the road, against conference rivals Williams, Middlebury, and Wesleyan. "One high point of the season was beating Williams," Shepherd said. "We came into their gym, and beat them by nearly 20 when they were in the top 25. Even though we were winning for most of the second half, it seemed like it was a close game. We kept the emotion up." The season came down to the final weekend, when Tufts had a one-two punch of No. 22 Trinity and No. 4 Amherst. "That was another high point of the season. Trinity had the league's leading scorer, and it felt good to beat them," Shepherd said. "The crowd was unbelievable; it felt good to win a big game at home." The roles were reversed for the second contest. Amherst crushed the Jumbos 94-61, proving its dominance. The following weekend Colby came to Cousens for the first home playoff game since the 1999-2000 season. The Jumbos won the game 99-88 to set up a semi-final match-up with Bates. That's where the season ended as the Bobcats defeated the Jumbos 60-54. The team's No. 2 seed in the tournament was the result of a turnaround season. In fact, on the team's brochure, produced before the season, claims, "the Jumbos will continue to rebuild in the 2004-2005 season." The Jumbos did more than rebuild, but they still have work to do. "This off-season we'll have to rededicate ourselves and simply try and be better," Shepherd said.


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Men's Basketball Analysis | Stellar Bates defense smothers Jumbos' high-flying offense in season-ending loss

When senior tri-captain Reggie Stovell nailed a three-pointer with 14:22 remaining in the men's basketball team's crucial matchup against the Bates Bobcats this weekend in the semifinal game of the NESCAC Tournament, it looked like the tide was starting to turn for Tufts. After coming out of halftime with a narrow 32-30 advantage, the Jumbos were locked in a tight opening five minutes, relinquishing the lead to the Bobcats but never trailing by more than six. With the shot, it seemed that Stovell, who had scored only six points in the first half on 3-10 shooting, was starting to get his rhythm. The three was his fourth field goal of the half, giving him 11 points in just over four minutes. Most importantly, Stovell's shot had given the Jumbos a 45-44 lead and the hope that they would be able to vanquish the scrappy Bobcats. Little did they know, things would turn around in a hurry. Following Stovell's three-pointer, Bates answered back, running its offense and freeing up a layup for sophomore guard Zak Ray. Ray's basket triggered a 10-0 run that would give the Bobcats a 54-45 lead and the cushion needed to advance to the tournament finals. During the stretch, the Jumbos missed 10 straight shots and turned the ball over five times to the Bobcats. While coach Bob Sheldon felt his team was able to take care of the ball throughout the game, he admitted the sloppy six minutes proved costly. "We had some big turnovers when it hurt us," he said. Back-to-back turnovers with just over 11 minutes to play deflated the Jumbos' momentum and put a bounce in the Bobcats' step. Bates junior reserve guard Sean Cahill picked sophomore Dave Shepherd's pocket and then raced in for a layup to give his team a five-point lead, followed by a pick-off from Ray on the next possession. Ray was a nuisance to the Jumbos' offensive rhythm throughout the game, playing aggressive defense and scoring 17 points at the other end. While the Bobcats could not convert the opportunity presented by Ray's steal, they would have another chance later. With 9:53 left in the ballgame, senior center Elliott Linsley swiped the ball from freshman Jake Weitzen and swooped in for a reverse layup to make the score 52-45. Three possessions later, the Bobcats extended their lead to nine on a one-handed shot by sophomore Rob Stockwell with 7:27 remaining in the game. The nine-point lead remained intact until Shepherd stopped the bleeding by stepping under the defense and making a layup. Shepherd's shot ended a scoreless streak for the Jumbos that lasted nearly nine minutes. The cold streak featured misses by all Jumbos on the floor, and by the time Shepard stemmed the flow, Tufts had missed its last 10 shots and the confidence boost of Stovell's three-pointer had all but drained away. While the Jumbos would fight back to cut the lead to three with a little six point run of their own, they could never fully recover from the spurt. Bates' defense proved stifling, holding Tufts to their lowest offensive output all season. The usually high-scoring Jumbos fell far below their previous season average of 82.8 points per game. Even a 21-point performance from Stovell, their leading scorer, was not enough to trigger any kind of offensive pattern. "[Bates] is a solid defensive team," assistant coach Reggie Hobbs said. "Ray plays great ball pressure. They don't make a lot of mistakes and they're very aggressive." The second-half run by the Bobcats propelled them to the NESCAC Tournament Championship, where they lost to Amherst. With the win, the Lord Jeffs moved to the second slot in the nation and, although they won't need it, have secured an at-large bid with the NESCAC tournament trophy.


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Men's Basketball | Bobcats silence Jumbos' offense to end season

All season, the men's basketball team had no problem with offense, leading the conference in scoring. On Saturday, that offense was nowhere to be found as the second-seeded Jumbos lost to third-seeded Bates 60-54 in the second round of the NESCAC Tournament. The Jumbos' offense, coming into the game averaging 82.8 points per game, could only muster 54 points against the Bobcats, shooting 35.5 percent from the floor in the game. The offensive output was tied for lowest of the season for the Jumbos. "It was a hard-fought game," coach Bob Sheldon said. "I felt we didn't shoot the ball well. We've been relying on offense all year. Our defense has been good, but we just have got to get more than 60 points." The loss ended a season for Tufts in which the Jumbos doubled their win total, finishing with a 16-10 record. After coughing up its feeble first half lead and allowing the Bobcats to jump ahead and grab hold of a second half lead, the Jumbos managed to narrow the gap in the closing minutes. With 3:06 left in the game and the Jumbos down by five, junior Dan Martin caught a pass from sophomore Dave Shepherd at the free throw line and hit the 15-footer to cut the deficit to 54-51. The Jumbos turned up the pressure on defense on the next possession and freshman Ryan O'Keefe knocked the ball away from Bates sophomore Zak Ray and then dove to the floor for the ball. Several Jumbos and Bobcats followed, diving to the floor and scrambling for the basketball. After the tussle was cleared up, the referees called a tie-up and the possession arrow favored Tufts. On the other end of the floor, with a chance to cut the lead to one, Martin missed a layup. "We ran a play," Sheldon said. "It's a play that has an inside option and an outside option. I said we didn't have to shoot the three. Let's just get the ball in there. Actually, I think we got a great shot. We just missed an easy layup. That would have cut it to one, and it's a whole different game, but we missed some shots we normally make." Despite the miss and a basket at the other end by the Bobcats, Tufts still had a chance to get back in the game. With 1:58 left in the game and the Jumbos trailing 56-51, senior tri-captain Reggie Stovell stepped right into the lane, spun back to the left side, raised up for a layup and drew the foul. Stovell settled in and sunk the pair of free throws to pull the Jumbos within a basket at 56-53. After two layups off of offensive rebounds by Bates sophomore Rob Stockwell and a missed three-pointer by O'Keefe, the Jumbos, trailing by seven in the final minute, desperately needed a basket. Shepherd got to the line and made the first free throw. After his second attempt missed, senior tri-captain Drew Kaklamanos skied for the rebound, and the Jumbos were still alive. The team got three more shots on that possession, but none of them fell and the Jumbos' hopes were dashed. "We went cold," assistant coach Reggie Hobbs said. "We couldn't make a shot. I thought we had some good shots. They just didn't go down. That's the game." After shooting 42.4 percent in the first half, Tufts shot just 27.6 percent in the second. The Bobcats were not much better, shooting just 34.2 percent in the half and 36.5 percent for the game. "If you looked at this game, you never would have thought it would be 54-60," Hobbs said. "You'd think it would be in the 80 [point range]. Both teams like to play that way, but both teams locked down defensively." The team appeared to be in good shape in the first half. After trailing 21-14 early in the game, the Jumbos utilized four of ten outside shooting in the half to take a 32-30 lead in the first half on a turnaround jumper in the post by Shepherd. Coming out of the locker room, the Jumbos quickly fell down 40-34. They fought back, however, to claim a 45-44 lead on a three-pointer by Stovell. Things deteriorated from there as the Bobcats went on a 10-0 run. Tufts was never able to reclaim the lead. Bates' strong defense was the major source of the Jumbos' struggles. "Bates played great defense," Martin said. "You can't take anything away from them. We didn't have our offense as much as we've had in the past, but they just came out hard." The game ended the collegiate careers of senior tri-captain Jesse Belodoff, Stovell and Kaklamanos. Stovell, who had a rough start to the game, scoring six points and grabbing two rebounds in the first half, finished the game with 21 points and 13 rebounds, solidifying his case for NESCAC Player of the Year. "I'm going to miss the seniors incredibly," Martin said. "I came in with Jesse and Drew. They came in as sophomores. I was a freshman that year. I love them all. Reggie, he's going to be missed so much. I'm just really heartbroken right now. I can't say enough about them. [They're] incredible people and incredible athletes. I don't know what it's going to be like next year." According to the coaching staff, however, the presence of the seniors will still be felt next year. "Without the seniors, we wouldn't have accomplished our goal," Hobbs said. "Their mark on this program is going to be around for a long time because of what they did in terms of leadership and intangibles."


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Men's Basketball | Tufts reins in Mules during first round of NESCAC Tournament

It took the men's basketball team a while to gain offensive momentum on Saturday against the Colby Mules in the first round of the NESCAC Tournament. But once the Jumbos started scoring, Colby could do nothing to stop them. After heading into halftime with a tender 39-36 lead, the Jumbo offense came out full force in the second half to score 60 points and bury the Mules 99-88 to advance to the NESCAC Tournament semifinals. "It was a good playoff game," coach Bob Sheldon said. "Both teams were evenly matched. They slowed it down in the first half and then in the second half, I think we imposed our will a little bit and got the pace up to how we wanted it." Playing against a smaller lineup, the Jumbos came into the game trying to pound the ball inside. The strategy worked, as the team outscored the Mules 48-26 in the paint and out-rebounded them 57-36. The Jumbos scored their first 30 points of the game from in the paint or from the free throw line. Despite the success in the lane, the Jumbos found themselves trailing by as many as seven points in the first half as Colby played tough defense and shot 9-10 for free-throws. Mules senior Pat McGowan scored 14 first-half points and ended up with a game-high 28 in his final collegiate game. "I think we just came out a little bit flat," senior tri-captain Drew Kaklamanos said. "If we lost this game, there would have been a lot of people who would have said our season was a fluke. So I think we came in a little bit too tight, a little bit tentative. Shots that we normally make, we weren't making, but we settled down and played them how we were supposed to play them." The team's shaky play in the beginning of the game didn't worry Sheldon, even though it came on the heels of a lopsided loss to Amherst. "I wasn't worried," Sheldon said. "They were making a lot of shots and I knew that we could pick up our defense and we'd wear them out eventually. We wanted to keep running." The Jumbos chipped away at the lead and went into the locker room at halftime leading 39-36. "Our goal going in here was to jam it inside, and when they started doubling us up, to kick it out," Sheldon said. "We thought that they would have to start calling fouls. So, even at halftime we said keep jamming it inside." Resuming play after the break, Colby cut the lead to two on a jumper by star center sophomore Drew Cohen. But after that, things turned around for the Jumbos. With six fans wearing shirts that spelled out "GO KUMF" watching from the balcony, sophomore forward Brian Kumf leaped up to grab a lob from sophomore Dave Shepherd at the baseline. Planting his feet and then muscling his way up for the layup, Kumf hit the shot, drew a foul on Cohen, and then sank the free throw. More importantly, Cohen picked up his fourth foul and had to exit the game. "They got into foul trouble," Kaklamanos said. "When [Cohen] got his fourth foul and they went in small, we knew there was no way they could guard us inside. Our post players, Jake, Reggie and Dan, are all too good. We just pushed the ball, ran smart and pounded it inside." Junior center Dan Martin had a career game, piling up 26 points and 15 rebounds. He efficiently shot 8-10 from the floor and knocked down 10-11 from the line. Martin made his own opportunities in the paint, grabbing seven offensive boards. "Dan Martin was a man out there today," Sheldon said. "The last three games, he has played probably the three best big men in the league, so his confidence was sky-high going against Cohen." Martin's performance made up for a rough shooting night by senior tri-captain Reggie Stovell, who shot 4-14 but came down with nine rebounds, including five offensive ones. "Dan Martin played a great game today," Stovell said. "He has the potential to be the best player in the NESCAC. He just came out and showed it today. We're a team full of weapons." Kumf was another one of those weapons on Saturday, pouring in 18 points and hitting all eight of his free throws. Kaklamanos was also good all-around, scoring 12 points, snatching three steals and blocking a shot. His performance made up for a rough game by backcourt teammate Shepherd, who handed out 11 assists but turned the ball over nine times and shot 1-7. The Jumbos spent plenty of time at the line throughout the game, as four Colby starters fouled out. The list included leading scorers Cohen and McGowan. The Jumbos capitalized, hitting 30 of 34 from the charity stripe in the second half and going 38 of 44 in the game. With the win, the Jumbos will move on to play the Bates Bobcats next Saturday in the NESCAC Tournament semifinals at Amherst. A win could launch the team to the NESCAC Tournament final, where the Jumbos would have a chance to advance to the NCAA Tournament. "[This win is] huge," Kaklamanos said. "I feel like [the win] validates the team. The two seed wasn't a fluke. [A record of] 16-9 was not a fluke. We beat teams. They're not always big wins, but they're wins."


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Women's Basketball | To be the best: Jumbos' season depends on potential upset over top-ranked Bates tomorrow

To be the best, you've got to play the best, and in the arena of Div. III women's basketball, it doesn't get any better than Bates College. The Bobcats are currently ranked No. 1 nationally, enjoying their second week atop the rankings and their sixth straight week in the country's top 10. Leading the NESCAC in almost all meaningful categories - points scored, points allowed, shooting percentage, steals, rebounds, and assists - Bates is highly favored both in the NESCAC and NCAA tournaments, and a loss in the first round of the conference tournament would certainly be an upset to remember. But that's just the upset coach Carla Berube and the Jumbos are set on as they travel to Lewiston, Maine on Saturday for their first-round NESCAC tournament game against the top-seeded Bobcats. After a weekend of intense action around the league, the final NESCAC rankings were released on Monday, and along with them, the matchups for this weekends' opening round of the postseason tournament. The Jumbos came in at the number seven spot, picking up two spots on a 3-0 week with wins over Trinity, Amherst, and non-league Salve Regina. The top two slots went predictably to Bowdoin and Bates, ranking No. 3 and No. 1 in the nation, respectively. The Tufts-Bates matchup is one of four opening-round games being played on Saturday. The two teams will meet for the second time in two weeks, as the Bobcats came away from Medford on Feb. 5 with a 76-66 win over the Jumbos. A slow start from the home team afforded the Bobcats large first-half leads that would prove too much to overcome, even though Tufts rallied to outscore Bates by a slim margin 35-32 in the second half. "Our slow start last time definitely hurt us along the way," sophomore guard Taryn Miller-Stevens said. "We want to be in it right from the start, not give an inch, and play our game." The Jumbos were shut out from the floor for nearly the first six minutes in the loss, and getting into an offensive pattern early on will be crucial on Saturday. But for Berube, who has centered her strategy on defense, the early tempo of the game will be set on the defensive end. "Offensive rhythm is definitely important, but we really need to come out in with defensive pressure and intensity," she said. "Defensive transition is really important and we can't give them quick, easy baskets." Coming out strong from the whistle has been part of Berube's game plan all year. Aggressive defense and full-court pressure have been staples on the court this season and will likely appear in Saturday's game as the Jumbos will look to get some early steals, shake up Bates' offensive rotation, and put the Bobcats on the defensive early on. But the Jumbos are under no illusions about what they are up against this weekend. Bates boasts the NCAA's 7th-ranked offense and three-time NESCAC Player-of-the-Week Olivia Zurek, whose athleticism is actually under-represented by her per-game average of 17 points and 16 rebounds. But while the Jumbos are something of a dark horse in the NESCAC tournament, it is a role they wholly embrace. "We're definitely the underdog," said senior co-captain Alison Love, whose trifecta of 20-plus performances last week earned her NESCAC Player-of-the-Week honors. "But I think we're in a good position. We have nothing to lose, and they have the pressure of being No.1 right now." Berube commented on the odds against the Jumbos. "Nobody expects us to win," she said. "Bates is a tough place to compete, but it really just comes down to playing basketball. We've never won a NESCAC tournament game, and that's been our goal since the start of the season." While the Jumbos are now just one slot up from the bottom, their presence in the tournament at all is a result of a strong finish in last weekend's league schedule. Heading into the weekend, Tufts was 1-6 against NESCAC teams and the promise which had characterized the beginning of the season had all but evaporated. But after huge conference wins over Trinity and Amherst, the Jumbos seem to be playing with the intensity, cohesion and purpose that had been missing during their unprecedented mid-season seven-game losing streak. The team's turnaround heading into the culmination of the 2004-2005 season is as striking as the nosedive that endangered their playoff chances to begin with. The Jumbos have now won six of their last seven, and this momentum and confidence boost could not have come at a better time. The NESCAC records of Bates and Tufts shed little light on what to expect tomorrow. The Bobcats came away with a narrow 70-69 victory over Trinity last weekend, which, when taken with Trinity's blowout loss to Tufts and the Jumbos' closer-than-it-looked loss to Bates two weeks ago, could have one of many implications for the NESCAC tournament. Maybe Trinity just got lucky, maybe Tufts is a better team than they showed against Bates, or maybe it's an encouraging sign for the Jumbos in their first round matchup. But what it most likely signifies is that the competition among NESCAC teams, from the top of the rankings to the bottom, is some of the best and most unpredictable in the nation. On any given night, it's anybody's game, and the Jumbos are determined to make tomorrow theirs. "We're all on the same page right now," Miller-Stevens said. "Coach told us that this is what you play for - the chance to pull off an upset - and I think it's within our reach."


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Men's Basketball | NESCAC Tournament in Jumbo crosshairs

Heading into the NESCAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed, the men's basketball team has one simple goal. "The goal is to win the NESCAC Tournament, hopefully against Amherst," freshman Jake Weitzen said. Kicking off the single-elimination NESCAC Tournament against Colby at 3 p.m. this Saturday at Cousens Gym, the team must win to stay alive. Luckily for the Jumbos, this do-or-die game will be played on their home floor. "Home-court advantage is an advantage because of the crowd," freshman Ryan O'Keefe said. "With the crowd on your side, when you get momentum on your side, it's hard to stop it. We play our best at home." This mental edge has not always produced wins for the Jumbos this season as they are 15-9 overall but just 5-4 on their home floor. While it started the season with three consecutive home losses, the team turned home record around by winning five in a row at Cousens before losing to Amherst this past weekend. One of those home victories came against Colby, which Tufts will host this weekend. On Jan. 14, the Jumbos defeated the Mules 76-69 to open what would eventually become a 7-2 NESCAC season. "They're solid," sophomore Dave Shepherd said. "They're a scrappy team. They've got a lot of guys who can shoot. They're not really a flashy team, but they're good at what they do." Indeed, at 14-7, Colby holds a better record than Tufts heading into the matchup. The Jumbos, however, played a tougher schedule than the Mules as Tufts went 8-2 against schools that both teams played, whereas the Mules only went 7-5 in those matchups. The most important game from earlier in the season, of course, was the one in which the Jumbos and the Mules met head-to-head. While the Jumbos won the game, it certainly was a battle as they were forced to fight back from a 59-48 deficit with 13:20 left in the ballgame. From that point on, however, the Jumbos held the Mules to 10 points the rest of the way and ended up winning the game by seven. The players will have this game in their minds as they face the Mules once again. "We've got to play defense," Shepherd said. "We played really well in the last 10 minutes [of the first game with Colby]. We outscored them by almost 20 [in that span]. Part of that is that we kind of figured them out." The Jumbos also recognize that they must play more consistently this time around. "You have to be tough for 40 minutes," O'Keefe said. "You can't have lapses, where you don't play as hard. If we come out for 40 minutes and play hard, we will be alright." Colby brings a two-pronged attack to Cousens Gym, led by sophomore center Drew Cohen and senior shooting guard Patrick McGowan. The two combine to average 31.9 points per game, but only combined to score 24 points in the previous meeting with Tufts. "We know what they're going to do and who their guys are, first hand," Shepherd said. "We have to defend our first victory. We have to prove that it wasn't a fluke and that we're the better team." While the Jumbos have won four out of their past five games, they will have to rebound from the shock of their 94-61 romp at the hands of nationally-ranked Amherst this past weekend. The lopsided defeat allowed Amherst to win the regular season title and earn home court advantage throughout the NESCAC Tournament. The Jumbos would love to even the score by handing the Lord Jeffs a loss in the tournament, but the team is careful not to look to far ahead. "We're definitely looking at this as a three-game season," Shepherd said. "We have to get the first one to get the second one, and the second one to get to the third. We've got to take it one game at a time. We want to get some momentum going, but at the same time, if we don't win the first one, we're done." Despite entering the game off a loss, the players feel that they have regained their composure. "Everybody's pretty confident," Weitzen said. "We know we had an off night [against Amherst], but the last two practices have been good and we know we'll be ready on Saturday."


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Women's Basketball | Jumbos stomp out Lord Jeffs to secure seventh seed spot

With its back against the wall and the season on the line, the women's basketball team again responded with a big win a night after trouncing Trinity. Tufts jumped out to a big lead early and never trailed in beating Amherst 76-67 on Saturday. With the win, the Jumbos guaranteed themselves a spot in the NESCAC tournament next weekend. Junior guard Julia Verplank, starting for the first time since returning from a knee injury, scored seven points as Tufts started out the game on a 15-2 run. The Jumbos led by nine at halftime, and maintained a comfortable advantage throughout the second half. Amherst came into the game holding opponents to just 55 points and 34 percent shooting from the field, but Tufts was able to surpass those numbers by a wide margin, shooting 47 percent for the game, including 53 percent in the first half. "We really concentrated on our defense, and that led to lots of fast break points," senior co-captain Erin Connolly said. "Also, in practice last week, we made a real effort to run through all of our plays. We really executed well, and got some great looks at the basket." Fellow senior co-captain Allison Love led Tufts with 22 points on 10 of 16 shooting from the floor. It was Love's third straight game with at least 20 points, and she was consistent for the Jumbos, scoring 11 points in each half. "We were really focused on executing our offense," Connolly said. "Alli [Love] got some great looks at the basket and she finished those shots." Love and junior Laura Jasinski dominated inside for Tufts. Jasinski finished with a game-high 10 rebounds, and added 18 points. The Jumbos displayed a balanced scoring attack, with all five starters finishing in double figures. Verplank scored all 10 of her points in the first half, while sophomore Taryn Miller-Stevens hit nine of 10 free throws in the second half to secure the victory. Junior Jessica Powers finished with 11 points and four assists. Tufts won despite a slow night from their leading scorer, sophomore Valerie Krah. Krah finished 0-3 from the field, going scoreless in just 14 minutes. Amherst was led by Krissy Morin's 17 points off the bench. Katie Latham and Shaina Pollack added 12 points each. With their two wins over the weekend, the Jumbos secured the seventh seed in the NESCAC tournament. Next Saturday they will take on the number one team in the country, the Bates Bobcats. The game is a rematch of the teams' Feb. 5 meeting, which Tufts lost in a close 76-66 game. According to Connolly, the hope of keeping their season alive provided added incentive for the Jumbos. "[Getting into] the playoffs is a huge motivator," Connolly said. "We knew if we won both games we were in, so it was essential for us to come out strong. We played well and we really deserved to get in." Getting into the playoffs was especially important for Connolly and Love, who want to keep their careers going as long as possible. "Alli [Love] and I didn't want the season to end," Connolly said. "The playoffs are what it's all about. It's what we've been focused on since we started playing pick-up games in September." Despite finishing the regular season with a 3-6 record in the NESCAC, the Jumbos feel that they are a good enough team to win the conference tournament. "We're playing our best basketball of the entire season when we need to," Connolly said. "I'm excited to continue playing the basketball we've been playing [this past weekend] against Bates."


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Basketball

Men's Basketball | Amherst ends Tufts' hopes for home court

After defeating No. 22 Trinity on Friday night to solidify its grip on the second seed in the NESCAC Tournament, the men's basketball team was dreaming big. Saturday's season finale with Amherst would determine the top seed as well as home court advantage for the NESCAC Tournament. 40 minutes of basketball later, Tufts' dreams had been crushed as the Amherst Lord Jeffs dominated the game, winning 94-61, asserting their dominance in the conference and solidifying home court advantage throughout the NESCAC Tournament. "They're a really good team, number four in the nation," coach Bob Sheldon said. "They came in here ready to play and they just got off to a better start and stepped on us. They made all their shots shooting 65 percent in the first. They got us down and we were never able to fight back." The crowd, still buzzing from the performance the night before, was near capacity. It witnessed a total domination by the Jeffs, who took an early 8-6 lead and proceeded to run away from the Jumbos. According to Sheldon, the lackluster start may be attributable to the emotional game the night before. "Part of it was [emotion]," Sheldon said. "We had a little trouble with that earlier when we beat Wesleyan and then we had a little let down with Connecticut College. We tried to fight against it but I just felt it was there a little bit." The Jeffs took advantage and led by as many as 23 in the first half as they shot 65.4 percent from the floor, including 7-13 from beyond the arc. Amherst was equally dominant in the second half, outscoring Tufts 46-27. "They didn't miss a shot," senior tri-captain Jesse Belodoff said. "They run their offense very well. They get good shots and they knock them down. They were the better team today." The Jeffs, who entered the game as the No. 1 defensive team in the conference, were equally impressive on the defensive end as they prevented Tufts from getting the ball inside to senior tri-captain Reggie Stovell in the first half. Stovell only scored four points in the first half, all coming in the last three and a half minutes. Without Stovell's steady scoring hand, the Jumbos were forced to focus on their outside shooting. Unfortunately their luck was no better from the outside. "We've got outside scorers," Sheldon said. "Ryan [O'Keefe] can shoot outside. Drew [Kaklamanos] can. It's just that we changed things a little bit. They did a good job stopping [Stovell]. It changed us, but it's not something we haven't seen before. We didn't make shots." The Jumbos shot just 29.6 percent from the floor including 3-19 from three-point land. Amherst certainly deserves some credit for the Jumbos' shooting woes. "They played good defense all around," junior Dan Martin said. "They played great help defense. They're a really solid defensive team. Our shots weren't falling from inside or outside." Despite shooting woes and the Jeffs' tough defense, the Jumbos were able to claw back into the game before the half, going on a 13-4 run before the half to cut the lead to 48-34. Freshman Jake Weitzen capped off the run with a driving layup and a foul to complete a three-point play. Weitzen was Tufts' one consistent spark, scoring all 10 of his points in the first half on 4-4 shooting. All of the Tufts' momentum came to a halt with the buzzer at halftime. Amherst jumped out of the gates going on a 31-8 run to claim a 37-point lead. Tufts failed to get back into the game as the Jeffs (8-0 NESCAC) completed their perfect NESCAC season. With the victory, Amherst clinched home court advantage throughout the NESCAC Tournament that will start next Saturday. The Jumbos, who fell to 15-9, are left trying to regain their momentum for their first round match against Colby. "We've been saying a lot in games, 'just worry about the next possession,'" Belodoff said. "We just have got to worry about Monday. And on Monday, we've got to worry about practice Tuesday. All you can do is prepare for what's right in front of you." According to Sheldon, bouncing back from this game can only make his team stronger. "We're playing at home," Sheldon said. "We've talked about one of the things we say with the team is it's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get up. We got knocked down today. We're just going to get up and go play Saturday at home. The best thing that could happen is we play [Amherst] in the finals."


The Setonian
Basketball

Men's Basketball | Stovell leads in key Trinity upset

The near capacity crowd that showed up Friday night to watch the men's basketball team play Trinity, the No. 22 team in the country, went home happy as the Jumbos upset the Bantams, winning by 12 with a score of 93 to 81 to secure the second seed in the NESCAC Tournament. The energized crowd and the anticipation surrounding the game did not faze the team, which focused on the game. "We wanted to come into this game on a pretty even keel," senior tri-captain Reggie Stovell said. "We knew that we couldn't get overconfident and just [had to] play our best." And undoubtedly, they did. Stovell led the Jumbos with 21 points and 20 rebounds. He was a perfect 12-12 from the charity stripe. After watching a free throw roll around the rim endlessly before going in, Stovell pointed to the roof. Early on, Trinity appeared to have the momentum. There were some key turnovers, and the Trinity bench got into the game. Then, the tables turned and it became a back and forth shootout. There were many fouls called early, forcing coach Bob Sheldon to bench sophomore Brian Kumf. He only played eight minutes of the first half. One factor that the Jumbos had riding with them for the first time in a long time was the crowd. The crowd added to the atmosphere and the electricity in the gym, helping to quell any momentum gained by the visiting Bantams. The crowd didn't really become involved in the game until ten minutes into the first half. With 9:19 left, Tufts utilized its height advantage to the utmost. In what was a repeat of Tuesday's game against Newbury, junior Dan Martin took a perfect inbounds pass from sophomore Dave Shepherd and slammed it viciously through the hoop. The Tufts crowd jumped to its feet in excitement. The Jumbos were effective all night on inbounds passes. Shepherd's inbound passes were perfect, and often the recipient would not even have to dribble to get the ball in the basket. Shepherd finished the night with seven assists to lead all players. One problem the Jumbos would have to contend with was Trinity junior Tyler Rhoten. Averaging 21 points per game, he is the leading scorer in the NESCAC and reigning NESCAC Player of the Week. The tall forward had to work around the trio of inside threats who shared the role of guarding him, including three-time NESCAC Player of the Week Stovell. "We tried to play him real physically," said Stovell. "Me, [Martin], and [Kumf] all played him tough inside. We knew he was going to take 20-25 shots a game, so we figured that he was going to have to earn every single basket. He would take no easy shots." Rhoten shot 4-10 from the field in the first half and finished the game leading all scorers with 25 points, retaining his NESCAC scoring title for another night. He also had 10 rebounds for the double-double. With Tufts focusing on Rhoten, the Bantams turned to the outside for their points. The Jumbos were content to let them shoot from behind the arc, and that stratagem worked. Trinity was 5-17 in the first half from three-point range, but finished the game 8-33. The inability to go inside disrupted its rhythm and ultimately sealed the win for Tufts. Freshman Jake Weitzen also stood out with clutch shooting and hustle. He had 14 points in the first half and finished the game with 20 and 10 rebounds, nine of which came in the second half. Despite his efforts, the score was pretty close for much of the first half, with neither team accumulating a lead larger than five points. Tufts managed to take the lead 44-41 on a layup by Martin with less than a minute remaining. After some frenetic shooting by Trinity, Tufts came down with the ball. But quickly, the Bantams forced a jump ball, and with the possession arrow in their favor, took control. With three seconds to play, John Halas took a pass on a well executed play and buried the game-tying three-pointer as time expired. Coach Bob Sheldon said the team was confident at halftime because it knew it could play with the highly ranked Bantams. "I told them that in the first half they proved they were as good as this team that was ranked twenty-something," Sheldon said. "I told them that they could win and win big." With that confidence, the Jumbos came out of the gate streaking, and never looked back. The offense became a defined two-pronged attack: quick drives to the basket and getting the ball inside. Trinity tried to press after Tufts lengthened its lead, but was unsuccessful. The Jumbos sharp, precise passing and speed set the tempo. "We made them play our game in the second half," Sheldon said, "and that's what turned the game to our favor. We could just breeze past them in transition and go for the easy layup. It's much easier to score that way."


The Setonian
Basketball

Women's Basketball | The stakes are high for last weekend of season play

It's last call for the women's basketball team. While sports journalism is often guilty of overkill when it comes to dramatic clich?©s - make-or-break, do-or-die, now-or-never - any one of them accurately describes the stakes the women's team faces as it heads into its final weekend of the 2004-2005 regular season. With conference rivals Trinity and Amherst in the crosshairs, the Jumbos gear up for their last chance to garner a bid in the NESCAC tournament and turn around a troubled second-semester season. The chance for senior co-captains Erin Connolly and Alison Love to extend their final season on the Hill with a playoff run rests entirely on the team's performance this weekend, as the Jumbos take to the road against conference rivals Trinity and Amherst in a last-chance push to the season's finish. And, as is always the case with NESCAC matchups, it's anybody's game. Wins for the Jumbos this weekend will rely on their ability to force turnovers on defense, find the open man and take care of the ball on offense, and take advantage of the momentum that has worked both for and against them this season. While the top three spots in the NESCAC rankings seem relatively certain to be some combination of Bowdoin, Bates, and Williams, the middle of the field is wide open as this weekend will see a flurry of action around the conference. Sophomore Valerie Krah spoke of the level of competition in NESCAC, which is considered by many to be one of the top Div. III athletic conferences. "The caliber of NESCAC teams is second to none," she said. "Every weekend, we get a chance to battle it out and play hard against great teams and great athletes, and that's really exciting." Trinity's 2-5 league record puts the Bantams just one spot above Tufts in league rankings at the No. 7 spot, while Amherst sits at No. 5 with a 4-3 record in conference play. A key factor in the final NESCAC standings may be none of these three teams, but another league team, No. 2 Bates. After defeating Tufts at home on Saturday, the Bobcats can make it up to the Jumbos as they have the chance to hand both Trinity and Amherst a loss this weekend. The final weekend of league play has too many variable matchups to call. But if the Jumbos play the kind of basketball they have shown glimpses of this season, and if the cards fall just right, Tufts could realistically gain two spots in the league rankings, and a sixth-place finish is more than enough to earn the team a trip to the league playoffs. But the potential reshuffling in the rankings is meaningless without a win in Friday's game against Trinity. The Bantams have struggled against NESCAC teams this season, managing its two wins over bottom-ranked Connecticut College and Colby, and suffering blowout losses to the league's best. A promising sign for both of the Jumbos games this weekend was Tufts' tight 63-60 loss against Williams on Jan. 21 and competitive showing against Bowdoin. Both Trinity and Amherst lost to both these teams by wide margins. By the numbers, both matchups look to be close and physical. No team has a considerable height advantage, and all three put up similar numbers in points scored, points allowed, and rebounding. Tufts holds a slight edge in assists, and if the Jumbos are able to consistently find the open player, as well as hit the open shots, this could make the difference. Neither Amherst nor Trinity are offensive powerhouses, each averaging less than 65 points per game. If the Jumbos can apply their trademark pressure defense, and give Krah and junior Jessica Powers some chances to jump out into passing lanes, Tufts will be able to disrupt offensive executions and limit scoring opportunities. "The game is definitely going to be won on the defensive end," Krah said. "Defense is one of our strengths and we need to come out strong on Friday." Connolly highlighted the game plan for the Jumbos, both in mental and tactical preparation. "Coach always tells us to worry about ourselves and not the other team," she said. "The team is extremely focused, we know we're capable of playing well, and this weekend is the perfect chance for us to show that."