No. 13 Men's Basketball Advances to NESCAC Semifinals With Win Over Hamilton

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MEDFORD –  The No. 13 Tufts men's basketball used a strong second half to pick up an 81-63 win over Hamilton in NESCAC Quarterfinal action in Cousens Gym on Saturday afternoon.  Junior Vincent Pace finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists and senior tri-captain Tarik Smith added 17 points for the Jumbos in the win.

The Jumbos improve to 20-5 on the season, and will advance to the NESCAC semifinals next weekend.  Because the Jumbos are the first seed in the tournament, they will host NESCAC semifinal and final action in Cousens Gym next Saturday and Sunday. Hamilton's season comes to an end with a 16-9 record.

Both teams got off to a slow start, but the Continentals  weren't able to score for the first five minutes of play.  With 14:26 left in the first half, Kena Gilmour scored the first Hamilton points to move the score to 6-2 in the Jumbos favor.  The Jumbos would then build a sizable lead and lead for most of the rest of the half.  

With 5:33 remaining in the half Jack Dwyer's layup brought the Continentals within four, 23-19.  After a layup from junior Everett Dayton, the Continentals got five points from Mark Lutz to come within one, 25-24. A Michael Grassey three with 2:44 left in the half gave the visitor's their first lead of the game. But, three free throws from Tarik Smith put the Jumbos back on top 28-27.  The two teams would trade the lead a bit more, but a jumper from Pace with three seconds left on the clock gave the Jumbos the 31-29 lead going into the half.

Coming out of the half Pace made a layup on the Jumbos first possession to give them the 33-29 advantage.  A minute later Hamilton's Tim Doyle got fouled going up for a jumper, but only made one of two free throws to bring the visitors within one, 33-32 with just over 18 minutes remaining in the game. The Continentals answered with a three from Kyle Pitman to tie the game at 35 just about a minute later.

After KJ Garrett made one of two free throws at the line, the Jumbos got a steal from junior Everett Dayton and after a breakaway layup and the made free throw after the Jumbos had the 41-37 advantage. Two points from freshman Eric Savage moved the Jumbos lead to 43-37 with 14:34 left in the game.  

Grassey made two free throws and Peter Hoffman added two points to bring the visitors within two, 43-41.   But, back-to-back dunks from junior KJ Garrett gave the Jumbos the 47-41 lead and that was a lead they were able to hold on to for the rest of the game.  The final score would be 81-63 in the Jumbos favor.

Pace would lead all scorers in the game with his 18, and Smith was right behind him with 17.  Sophomore Ethan Feldman turned in 15 points including a perfect 3-for-3 from downtown and Dayton finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists for the Jumbos.

Hamilton was led by 10 points each from Hoffmann and Pitman.  Lutz finished with a team-high eight rebounds.  Doyle, Dwyer, Grasse and Vincent Conn all added eight points for the visitors.  

In other NESCAC Quarterfinal action sixth seeded Williams upset third seeded Amherst and second seeded Middlebury squeezed by seventh seeded Bates. The Jumbos will now face off with sixth seeded Williams in NESCAC semifinal action in Cousens Gym next Saturday.