Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information
MIDDLEBURY — Top-seeded Middlebury held a 72-67 lead with 5:32 left in Saturday’s back-and-forth NESCAC Quarterfinal, but eighth-seeded Tufts closed with an 18-4 run and earned an 85-76 win inside Pepin Gymnasium. The contest featured 14 ties and 12 lead changes. The 25th-ranked Panthers fall to 18-7 overall and will hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, while the Jumbos (12-13) advance to next weekend’s semifinal round.
During an opening half that produced six ties and eight lead changes, Tufts grabbed its largest advantage at 26-21 on a three-point field goal from Carson Cohen with 7:38 remaining. The hosts chipped away at the deficit, knotting the contest at 27-27 on a free throw from Eric McCord with 5:20 showing on the clock. After the Jumbos maintained small leads over the rest of the half, the Panthers took a 39-38 edge on a layup with 17 seconds remaining by Hilal Dahleh. Tyler Aronson knocked down a three as the buzzer sounded, sending the visitors into the locker rooms up 41-39.
The teams traded marginal leads over a majority of the second stanza. The Panthers secured a five-point lead at 72-67 on a layup by McCord with 5:32 left. The Jumbos rattled off the decisive 18-4 run over the remainder of the contest, starting with a four-point play from Justin Kouyoumdjian. Tufts limited the Panthers to just 2-14 shooting from the floor during the stretch, while knocking down 4-6 shots and 9-11 free throws to seal the 85-76 win.
McCord paced the Panthers with 19 points and 10 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season. Jack Farrell chipped in with 13 points, six boards and four assists, while Matt Folger and Griffin Kornaker each scored nine. Kornaker also handed out four helpers for the hosts.
Eric Savage led four Jumbos in double figures with 19 points to go along with 10 boards and three assists, while Aronson added 17 points and Brennan Morris had 16. Kouyoumdjian chipped in with 11 points.
Tufts shot 45.8 percent (11-24) from three-point range in the contest, while Middlebury connected on just 17.4 percent (4-23).