Men's hoops drops heartbreaker to Tufts at the buzzer, 76-74

Semih Say '21 (photo by Mike Tureski /
Semih Say '21 (photo by Mike Tureski /

MEDFORD, Mass. (courtesy Tufts sports information) - Senior Vincent Pace nailed a buzzer beating three to give the Tufts men's basketball team a 76-74 win over Brandeis in the consolation game of the New England Big Four Challenge at Cousens Gym on Sunday afternoon.

With the win the Jumbos improve to 4-3 on the season.  Brandeis is now 1-5 after the setback.

Things were close early and the Jumbos grabbed the first significant lead.  Freshman Max Oppenheim made a layup to put the Jumbos up by one about five minutes into play.  That was followed by a layup from Pace, and a three from freshman Justin Kouyoumdjian to give Tufts the six point lead, 14-8, with 13:33 remaining in the half.

The Judges' sophomore Collin Sawyer (New London, Conn. / New London) put them back in it with a jumper followed by a three to come within one, 14-13, with 12:04 left in the half. With under ten minutes remaining in the half the Jumbos got threes from sophomore Eric Savage and Kouyoumdjian and were ahead by seven, 25-18, with 8:44 left.  They would grow that lead to 12 thanks to a layup and made free throw from senior Everett Dayton and a jumper from Pace.

But, then the Judges made their comeback. Rookie Lawrence Sabir (Pawtucket, R.I./LaSalle Academy) turned in a layup and that was followed by a jumper from senior Latye Workman (Brooklyn, N.Y./Bedford Academy) to cut the lead to eight.  A Nate Meehan (Lowell, Mass./Phillips Andover) trifecta brought the Judges within five with six minutes remaining. After a layup from Pace for the Jumbos, the Judges got back-to-back threes from sophomore Eric D'Aguanno (Saunderstown, R.I./St. Andrew's School) to come within one, 34-33. Kouyoumdjian put the Jumbos ahead by four with another three, but then a Workman layup brought the Judges with two, and a layup from first-year Semih Say (Istanbul, Turkey/Brewster Academy) tied things at 37 with 1:49 left in the half.  Say made two free throws to give the Judges the lead and a layup from Sabir put the Judges ahead 41-37 to head into the break.

Kouyoumdjian was the point leader in the first half for the Jumbos, finishing with nine, all coming from behind the arc.  Pace turned in eight points and Savage finished with eight as well.  For the Judges Eric D'Aguanno had a team-high nine points in the first half while Sabir finished the half with seven.  Workman turned in six points and six rebounds.

The second half was as close as it could be as the two teams traded the lead for the entire second half.  The Jumbos had a three point advantage, 71-68 with 1:37 remaining in the game, but a layup from Say put the Judges within one, 71-70, with 1:18 left in the game. The Jumbos then missed a shot on their end, and a layup from Sawyer gave the Judges the lead, 72-71, with 18 seconds left in the game.  On their next possession the Jumbos would take the lead back thanks to a layup from sophomore Patrick Racy, but then another layup from Say put the Judges ahead by one with ten seconds left.

With the ball and ten seconds on the clock the Jumbos would turnover the ball and quickly foul.  But, Sawyer missed the one-and-one free throw, and the Jumbos got the ball back with 2.7 seconds left.  Racy threw a long Pace to pass on the other side of half court and Pace quickly called a time out.  Savage inbounded the ball and threw a pass across the court to Pace, who quickly turned and unleashed the three that went right in and gave the Jumbos the 76-74 win.

Pace finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Jumbos.  Racy tallied 14 points and nine rebounds and Savage finished with 12 points and five boards.  Kouyoumdjian turned in 12 off the bench for the Jumbos.

Say had a team- and career-high 16 points off the bench for the Judges in 19 minutes. He earned a spot on the New England Big Four Challenge All-Tournament team.  Both D'Aguanno and Sabir tallied 11 points and Chandler Jones finished with ten points and seven rebounds.  Sawyer turned in ten points off the bench and Workman finished with eight points and 12 rebounds.

The Jumbos are back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Emerson for a 7:30 pm start.  Brandeis plays again on Thursday when they host Newbury for a 6 pm start.