Tufts, Bates hand men’s basketball two more losses

Men’s basketball (15-7, 2-6 in the NESCAC) stumbled to its fifth consecutive loss at Tufts on Saturday after meeting with defeat at Bates on Friday night. Bates (15-6, 4-3 in the NESCAC) extended its win streak to six games with a 78-71 win over Williams. Then Tufts (11-11, 1-6 in the NESCAC) claimed its first NESCAC victory as it pummeled Williams, 93-68. It was a sobering weekend for the Ephs, who began the year on solid footing but have fallen into a rut as they near the end of the regular season.

The conference losses this weekend followed losses to Amherst, Hamilton and Middlebury. The games against Hamilton, Middlebury and Bates might have been salvaged, but a few errors in the critical moments spoiled Williams’ chances. Head Coach Dave Paulsen said, “Our successes have been our own and our failures have been our own.”

The Ephs are ranked seventh in the NESCAC with only two regular season games to get themselves on track and secure a spot in the NESCAC tournament.

Against Bates, Williams started strong on defense, but struggled to convert offensively. In the first half, the Ephs shot only 37 percent from the floor and missed several simple shots in the paint. “We missed point blank wide open lay-ups,” Paulsen said. The Ephs went into halftime down by only one point, 28-27, but had suffered a psychological blow.

The Ephs trailed the Bobcats, but kept the score close through the opening minutes of the second half. Then an 11-2 run put the Bobcats up 56-45. Williams rallied to cut the lead to five with the help of three-pointers from co-captain Chris Rose ’08 and Blake Schultz ’09, but Bates staved off the Williams drive. Bobcats Bryan Wholey and Chris Wilson hit three-pointers of their own.

Bates reestablished a substantial lead for the rest of the game and took the contest, 78-71.

“We continued to struggle offensively, and couldn’t come up with baskets to match their scoring,” co-captain Chris Shalvoy ’08 said.

Bates shot 58 percent from the floor in the second half for 47 percent overall. Williams hit only 37 percent of their shots throughout the game.

The high-scorer on Friday night, Wholey brought in 20 points for Bates. Brian Ennis and Wilson scored 17 and 16 points, respectively.

Leading the Ephs on offense and defense, Joe Geoghegan ’10 tallied 17 points and 17 rebounds. Kevin Snyder ’09 added 14 points, three assists and one rebound. Rose contributed 13 points and two rebounds. The rest of the Ephs’ points came from Schultz (11 points, 3 assists, 5 rebounds), Matt Weisbrot ’08 (10 points, 1 assist, 6 rebounds) and Shalvoy (6 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds).

The loss to Bates hurt because, had a few errors not been made, the game might have gone the other way, according to Paulsen. On the other hand, Tufts beat Williams decisively on Saturday.

Tufts took the lead from the start and never let go. Twelve minutes and four Williams turnovers into the game, the Ephs were behind by 10 points. At halftime, the Jumbos led 45-35. A Shalvoy lay-up early in the second pulled the Ephs within nine, but the Jumbos shot with incredible accuracy and increased their lead to 25 by the game’s end. The 93-68 win gave Tufts its first victory against a NESCAC school all season.

“The Tufts game, I think, was an aberration,” Paulsen said. “It was just a complete breakdown – the wheels came off in every facet of the game.”

The Jumbos shot 62 percent from the field to the Ephs’ 44 percent. Jake Weitzen and Dave Beyel both ratcheted up 20 points for the Jumbos. Jon Pierce and Ryan O’Keefe brought in 17 and 16 points, respectively.

Only three Ephs even made it into double digits. Geoghegan contributed 13 points, Schultz added 12 points and Troy Whittington ’11, who came off the bench for only 14 minutes, swiftly scored 11 points.

The Jumbos also won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding the Ephs 31-26.

It was a tough weekend, but the Ephs are not in despair. “At the end of the day, we lost because we didn’t do what we should and can do,” Shalvoy said. “The NESCAC is the strongest that it has been in my career, but we still have the talent to play with and beat anybody.”

This weekend, the Ephs will be fighting for wins and a berth in the NESCAC tournament as they host Conn. College on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Wesleyan on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.