Despite a huge comeback in the final minutes, men’s basketball (15-10, 5-5 in the NESCAC) fell short and lost to Tufts 77-71 in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament. The game ended the Ephs’ 2015-16 season.
“They are a talented team that had won big at home all year,” Head Coach Kevin App said. “I thought we played a little tense early in the game when we had some great opportunities offensively, and then lost our poise for a brief stretch in the second half and dug ourselves too big of a hole to make up.”
As third seed playing sixth seed Williams, Tufts looked at ease in the early phases of the game. The Jumbos raced out to a 12-4 lead just five minutes into the game and center Tom Palleschi established a post presence early by scoring Tufts’s first seven points. Williams dominated offense but couldn’t convert on second-chance points.
After a slow shooting start, the Ephs did manage to bury five three-pointers and tie the game at 25 with 5:32 left in the half. The Jumbos responded with a 10-0 run, capped off by a layup with 2:15 to go. Tufts entered halftime with a 38-30 lead.
Tri-captain Ed Flynn ’16 made a layup on the Ephs’s first possession of the second half to pull within six.
From that point on, Williams struggled to generate any offense as Tufts went on an 11-0 run to go up 49-32. The men showed some resilience, cutting the deficit to eight on a run capped off by a three-pointer by Kyle Scadlock ’19 to make it 59-51 with 4:39 remaining.
However, the Jumbos responded to these runs with a run of their own and hit a three-pointer and converting a three-point play, ultimately putting themselves back on top by 14 with just 3:47 left on the clock.
Knowing that this could be their last game of the season, the Ephs refused to go down without a fight. Daniel Aronowitz ’17 almost single-handedly pulled the Ephs back into the game in the final moments of the game.
He scored 13 of his game-high 32 points in the final two minutes, as Williams cut their deficit to four with 17 seconds left on the clock. Despite this impressive effort, the Jumbos hung onto their lead to win 77-71.
Aronowitz concluded a fantastic season with 32 points and Bobby Casey ’19 was the only other Eph to reach double figures, finishing with 10.
Williams ended the 2015-16 campaign with a 15-10 record, and the team now looks to enter the offseason.
“This offseason, we’ll do what we always do, and that is represent this program and college in a positive manner in the classroom, and off the court by focusing on our program pillars of trust, appreciation, balance and selflessness,” App said.
“The experiences we gained this year will pay dividends in the near future, but only if we continue to work, improve and strengthen the skill, leadership and relationships within the program.”
App added that he was “incredibly proud and thankful” for the team’s three graduating seniors who have led the team.
“Without their effort, leadership and positive attitudes,” he said, “our young, inexperienced team would not have been able to come together and perform at a competitive level this season. It’s a shame their careers have to end, but our program will be always grateful to them.”
This year’s graduating members are Flynn, Luke Thoreson ’16 and Adam Harrell ’16. All three seniors have been influential players on the team this year and will be sorely missed, according to App.