MEDFORD – The Tufts University men's basketball team defeated the Middlebury College Panthers in an exciting NESCAC battle by score of 81-73 on Sunday afternoon at Cousens Gymnasium to earn the #2 seed in the NESCAC.
The first half was all Tufts, as they played tight defense and hit 40 percent of their shots from three-point range to take a 40-26 lead at halftime. Tyler Aronson and Dylan Thoerner (pictured) caught fire in the half, combining for 21 of the team's first-half points. It was Thoerner who got the game started with a layup to give the Jumbos the early lead. Tufts soon started to separate themselves from the Panthers. Aronson broke a 4-4 tie with a three-pointer and the Jumbos never looked back, going on a 19-6 run that was capped off by another Aronson three-pointer. The Panthers started a run of their own with just under three minutes to go, but Tufts continued the strong defense and efficient offense, keeping the large lead for the remainder of the half, going into halftime with the 14-point lead.
Middlebury started the second half strong, making adjustments on defense and shooting more consistently. Nearly eight minutes into the second half, the Panthers took over the momentum, going on a 20-7 run to bring the game within just one point at 47-46.
With 10 minutes remaining in the game, the game was tied at 50 apiece. Both teams were trading baskets and the game was still tied with six and a half minutes to go with the score at 56-56. When Middlebury's Noah Osher hit a jumper to give the Panthers a 62-60 lead just minutes later, Tufts' Will Brady responded immediately with a three-pointer to give the Jumbos the lead back. Aronson followed that up with a layup for a 65-62 lead with 4:43 remaining.
Tufts' Luke Rogers hit consecutive layups to give Tufts a four-point lead with just over one minute left. Middlebury would foul for the remainder of the game and Tufts hit their free throws as they finished the game on a 7-5 run to earn the 81-73 victory and the #2 seed in the upcoming NESCAC Tournament.
Thoerner finished the game as the leading scorer for the Jumbos, scoring 19 points and shooting six for eight from the field, including two for three from beyond the arc. He made all five of his free throw attempts and also added two rebounds and two assists. Aronson and Rogers both finished with 13 points with Rogers adding eight rebounds.
Osher led the way for Middlebury, scoring 23 points with six rebounds and three assists. Freshman Sam Stevens scored 14 points with five rebounds and junior Alex Sobel finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for the double double for the Panthers.
The win gives the Jumbos a final regular season record of 13-9 with a NESCAC record of 8-2. Middlebury falls to 17-5 overall with a 7-3 NESCAC record.
Next up for the Jumbos is the NESCAC Tournament. The date and time of their quarterfinal match-up are to be announced.
Written by Tim O'Brien, Athletic Communications Intern