Just days after finding a way to outlast Colby College in the 2020 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championship, the Tufts University men’s basketball team once again needed some second-half magic to edge Western Connecticut, 74-72, in the opening round of the NCAA D-III Tournament in Medford, Massachusetts on Friday evening.
Trailing the Colonials, 46-27, at the break, the Jumbos stormed back, outscoring the visitors, 47-26, in the second session to secure a date with RPI tomorrow in the second round on their home court.
Luke Rogers, who finished Friday’s contest with a double-double of 15 points and 16 rebounds, overcame a slow start by netting 14 of his 15 points in the second half while recording 11 rebounds, including three offensive caroms during the final 20 minutes. Rogers helped the Jumbos even the score with a layup with 32 seconds remaining before Carson Cohen sealed the win by knocking down a pair of freebies with five seconds remaining.
Legend Johnson attempted to win the game on the ensuing possession with a three-pointer, which did not fall through the hoop. The missed shot was followed by an emotional celebration between the Tufts players and their fans, who rushed the court as the buzzer sounded.
Cohen concluded the game with 14 points on 5 of 11 shooting while Tyler Aronson, who was playing in his first NCAA Tournament game, finished with 11 points, two steals, one assist, and one rebound. Dylan Thoerner came off the bench and contributed 12 points on five of eight shooting.
Western Connecticut’s Ahmod Privott led all scorers with 21 points to go with five rebounds and four steals while Fenton Bradley scored 19 points on 8 of 12 shooting.
Tufts, which improved to 22-6 overall, was making its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in three years. Western Connecticut concludes its season with a 20-8 overall record.