February 24, 2005

JUMBOS AWAIT NESCAC SEMI-FINAL GAME AGAINST BATES

AMHERST – The Tufts University Men's Basketball team heads to Amherst College where on Saturday they will meet Bates College in the semi-finals of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championships.  After a big win over seventh-seed Colby in Cousens Gym on Saturday, the #2 seed Jumbos are now hungry to advance to the conference championship game, with Bates in their way. Saturday's tip off is at 4:00 pm.

In a first round that didn't see a single upset, Tufts earned a 99-88 win over the Mules.  The story of this game was junior center Dan Martin (Sandwich, MA/Phillips Andover), who chose a great game to put up career-high totals in both points and rebounds.  His 26 points led the team as he went 8 for 10 from field goal range as well as 10 of 11 at the line.  He also hauled down 15 boards for the Jumbos, another team high. The performance earned him NESCAC Co-Player of the Week status.

Sophomore Brian Kumf (Milford, MA/Milford) finished with 18 points and five rebounds for the Jumbos.  Senior Reggie Stovell (Washington, DC/Hotchkiss) pulled down nine rebounds to go with his 13 points while freshman Jake Weitzen (New York, NY/Bronx HS of Science) and senior Drew Kaklamanos (Jupiter, FL/Jupiter) both contributed 12 points to the playoff win. The 99 points scored, including 60 in the second half, were both NESCAC Tournament records.

It took overtime to decide Bates' first round match-up against Williams on Saturday.  The game would have gone longer had it not been for a game-winning three-pointer from sophomore guard Rob Stockwell (Temple, NH) as time expired.  Stockwell put up a game-high 27 points while recording four rebounds and three steals en route to the 76-73 victory.  He shared the Player of the Week award with Martin.

Stovell scored his 1,000th career point and finished with a double-double, scoring 23 and pulling down 14 rebounds, in Tufts' 78-73 win over Bates on February 5. Complementing Stovell's game-high 23, freshman Ryan O'Keefe (Everett, MA) scored 20 with four rebounds and four assists, while sophomore David Shepherd (Grantham, NH) scored 11 with three assists, four rebounds and two steals. Five players scored in double-digits for Bates. Zak Ray (Bangor, ME) finished with a team-high 15 and six assists, while Stockwell finished with 14. Elliott Linsley (Murrieta, CA) had 12.

Tufts is the top offensive team in NESCAC with its 82.8 points per game. Conversely, the Jumbos are last in the league allowing 79.9 points per game though their field goal percentage defense is second overall at .405. They are also the top rebounding squad in the conference with a +9.6 margin over their opponents. Stovell is the leading rebounder at 10.1 per game and is third in scoring (18.1 points per game). Shepherd leads NESCAC in assists with 6.8 per game. Weitzen ranks fourth in NESCAC with a .569 field goal percentage, and is tied for second with his .435 three-point marksmanship. 

The Bobcats are the second-ranked defensive team in the league allowing 65.7 points per game. The are right behind Tufts in rebounding with a +9.0 margin, and are one of four teams in the league shooting free throws at better than .700 (.705). Ray is the best free throw shooter in NESCAC (.831), ranks fourth in the league with 5.12 assists per game and is third with 2.2 steals per contest. Linsley has connected on a remarkable .674 of his field goal attempts (91/135).

The Jumbos' success to this point is especially sweet considering where they were at this time last year. Home. Finishing the season 8-17 while going 2-7 in NESCAC match-ups, Tufts didn't win a single road game all year.  Included among those was a 72-57 defeat at Trinity in the first round of the NESCACs. This year, the 16-9 Jumbos have gone 9-5 on the road. This weekend, the Jumbos head to Amherst where they have two games to continue what has been a special season.

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