Late Comeback Falls Short as Jumbos Edged by No. 8 Hamilton in NESCAC Semifinals

CLINTON, N.Y. –  Behind 21 points from junior captain Eric Savage and a double-double from Luke Rogers, the Tufts men's basketball team erased a late second have deficit against No. 8 Hamilton in the NESCAC Semifinals.  But, the Jumbos weren't able to complete the comeback and fell to the second-seeded Continentals, 89-84, on Saturday afternoon. 

Eric Savage added 21 points, seven rebounbds, seven assists and three steals. 

The Jumbos fall to 12-14 with the setback, while the Continentals are now 23-3 and advance to the conference championship on Sunday against Amherst.  

The Jumbos were down 14 points with 1:34 left in the game and ten points with 22 seconds left on the clock, but used four threes in the final minute and a half to help spur a comeback.  Junior captain Eric Savage drained a three with 22 seconds left that brought the Jumbos within ten, 86-76.  Hamilton made one of two free throws and then freshman Tyler Aronson sunk a three of his own.  The Continentals turned the ball over on their next possession and sophomore Luke Rogers turned in a layup to bring the Jumbos within six, 87-81, with nine seconds left.  Once again, the Jumbos fouled and Hamilton only made one of two free throws.  When the Jumbos got the ball back Aronson made another three to bring Tufts within four, 88-84, with five seconds left.  That would be as close as the Jumbos would get, as Hamilton picked up the 89-84 win.  

Hamilton jumped out to an early lead in the game, getting a layup from Tim Doyle and then a three from Andrew Groll to take an 8-2 advantage just about two minutes into play.  A three from Peter Hoffman put the Continentals up, 15-8, about five minutes into the half.  But, the Jumbos got a three from sophomore Brennan Morris and then a layup from Rogers to come within two, 15-13.  The two teams traded baskets for a bit and the Jumbos took their first lead of the game when Morris made a three and then the free throw after to give the Jumbos a 21-19 advantage with 10:34 left in the half. 

Morris got hot and added two more threes within the next minute to give the Jumbos a 27-19 lead with 9:41 to go in the first half. Doyle broke the streak with a three of his own for the Continentals, and the Jumbos held on to about a seven point lead for the next six minutes.  Down 39-30 with 3:38 left in the first half the Continentals got a three and a layup from Michael Grassey.  Nick Osarenren then added a layup of his own to bring them within two 39-37 with 2:30 left in the half.  The Jumbos would take a 43-40 lead in to the break. 

Out of the half the Continentals got a layup from Groll and then a free throw from Spencer Kendall tied things at 43 about two minutes into the second half.  Savage answered with a three, but then Groll added another layup and then a dunk from Kendall put Hamilton ahead 47-46.  Ahead 53-50 about nine minutes into the second half, Sayo Denloye made two free throws for the Continentals an then Osareren dunked to increase the lead to seven. 

Ahead by eight with 9:07 left in the game Grassey turned in a layup and then Denloye added a layup of his own to take the lead up to 12, 64-52, with 8:50 to go.  Tufts freshman Tyler Aronson quickly made a three and then after a Hamilton layup sophomore Will Brady added another three for the Jumbos.  Hamilton would hold on to that lead until that final minute when the Jumbos made their comeback.  

Savage finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals to lead the Jumbos.  Rogers added 12 points and ten rebounds and Morris finished with 18 points and six rebounds.  Aronson also scored in double-figures for the Jumbos, adding 13 points, three rebounds and three assists.  Brady added nine points off the bench for Tufts. 

Doyle led the Continentals with 18 points, three rebounds and five assists.  Groll added 16 points and four steals.  Grassey turned in 11 points and five rebounds and Gilmour finished with nine points and seven rebounds.  Off the bench for Hamilton Denloyea and Mark Lutz each scored eight points and Kendall turned in nine. 

Hamilton takes on Amherst on Sunday for the conference championship.