By Matt Noonan
NORTON, MA — Tufts University’s men’s basketball team needed less than three minutes to sustain a lead, which they never surrendered, as the Jumbos defeated the Lyons of Wheaton College on Thursday, 92-75.
Freshman guard C.J. Moss guided the Jumbos offense with 17 points, five assists and one steal, while senior forward Alex Orchowski recorded a team high 12 rebounds, (3 offensive, 9 defensive) and 15 points.
“It was a really tough game, but we played real well, we played hard, they played hard, [but] we just came out on top,” said Moss.
Despite a 2-2 tie during the opening minutes, Moss and his team eventually went on a 14-2 run, which gave Tufts some breathing room before they extended their lead to 23 points by intermission.
The Jumbos offense outshot the Lyons during the first 20-minutes, and connected on 20-of-33 shots from the field, as well as outmuscled Wheaton on the glass with 25 rebounds.
“We always try to go up by 15 or 20 [points] at half, that’s our goal,” said Moss. “We try to keep the lead, [and] slowly add on, that’s what we do.”
“There’s swings in college basketball, and you just have to control how much you go down and we just didn’t do that,” said Wheaton College senior guard Brendan Degnan. “We fell too far in the hole tonight, and just couldn’t get out of it, couldn’t dig our way out.”
In the second half, the Lyons offense fought valiantly, but struggled to build off various momentum swings, such as numerous three-point shots and junior Cliften Desravines’ dunk.
“We just weren’t focused, mentally ready for this game, and couldn’t capitalize defensively and that comes with leadership, and this [game] is on me,” said Degnan. “I wasn’t prepared, I didn’t prepare the team [to be] ready for [Tufts].”
However, despite trailing the entire second half, Wheaton ended the game on a high note, as they outscored Tufts during the final four minutes, 13-2, and finished the contest with only 13 turnovers compared to Tufts, who ended with 23.
“We’re working on that, not turning the ball over, [which] is obviously one of the issues that we had early in the season, but that’s two good games now without turning the ball over,” said Wheaton College head coach Brian Walmsley.
Wheaton will look to rebound from their loss on Saturday when they travel to Bridgewater State, while Tufts will face Babson College at the New England Big 4 Challenge at Salem State University.
“Tufts is a great team, and we’re going to learn from this,” said Degnan. “We’re going to get better, and next game we’ll be mentally prepared.”
“We just got to learn and get better, that’s all,” said Walmsley.