December 3, 2005

Tufts rallies to defeat men's hoops in overtime, 86-72

MEDFORD, Mass. (Taken from a Tufts University press release) - Tufts University junior tri-captain David Shepherd (Grantham, NH) scored on a drive to the basket with 1.3 seconds on the clock to tie the game, then the Jumbos out-scored Brandeis University 24-10 in overtime to take an 86-72 victory in a hard-fought, entertaining battle between the local rivals on Saturday afternoon at Cousens Gym.

Sophomore Ryan O'Keefe (Everett, MA) led the Jumbos with 26 points. Brandeis, which dropped to 3-2, got 20 points from sophomore Steve DeLuca (Merrimack, NH) to lead them.

Tufts led by as many as nine points in the first half, but Brandeis finished the half with a 15-4 run over the final eight minutes to lead 34-29 at the break. DeLuca had 12 points at intermission on a perfect 6-for-6 effort from the field. Sophomore Jake Weitzen (New York, NY) led the Jumbos with seven points at the break.

Tufts chipped the Brandeis lead down to two points (36-34) early in the second half, but the visitors were able to maintain an edge that reached nine points twice. One of those occasions was a 58-49 advantage for the Judges following a three-point play by DeLuca with 3:08 on the clock. That's when Shepherd took over to get the Jumbos into overtime. He scored 11 points in the final three minutes including a three-pointer that cut the margin to three (61-58) at 1:19 and two free throws that pulled the Jumbos within one (61-60) with 14 seconds remaining. After Brandeis' Florian Rexhepi (Skopje, Macedonia) hit one of two free throws with 12 seconds left, Shepherd penetrated through the Judges' defense for a lay-up that tied the score at 62-62.

The Jumbos, who hadn't led since 7:06 of the first half, quickly built a five-point lead in overtime on a three pointer by Weitzen at 3:49. They would go on to make all five of their field goal attempts in OT and 13 of 16 free throws while Brandeis was 3 for 10 from the field including 0 for 5 from three-point territory.

Playing without second-leading scorer and leading rebounder Dan Martin (Sandwich, MA), Tufts got 18 points from Weitzen, 15 from Shepherd and 11 points with 12 rebounds from junior Brian Kumf (Milford, MA). Entering the game as 61.4 percent free throw shooters, Tufts hit 22 of 25 freebies (88 percent). The Jumbos had a 45-39 edge in the battle of the boards, with senior tri-captain Brian Fitzgerald (Bedford, NH) reaching double figures again with 11.

Brandeis, which blocked five Tufts shots and held the Jumbos to 29.7 percent (11/37) shooting in the first half, made just 9 of 28 shots (32.1 percent) in the second half while the Jumbos were converting at 60 percent (12/20). Sophomore Stephen Hill (Brighton, MA) finished with a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds along with three steals for the Judges. DeLuca, who hit 8 of 11 shots, also had eight rebounds and four blocks. Sophomore Joe Coppens (Rockland, MA) had 10 points, including a key three late in the game that the Jumbos were able to overcome.