Win Over Hamilton Helps No. 6 Tufts Men's Basketball Remain Perfect in NESCAC Play

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MEDFORD – Behind a career high 19 points from junior KJ Garrett and the first career double-double for freshman Eric Savage, the No. 6 Tufts men's basketball team moved to 4-0 in NESCAC play with a 94-81 win over Hamilton in Cousens Gym on Saturday afternoon.

The Jumbos are now 13-2 overall this season and a perfect 4-0 in NESCAC play. The 4-0 record in NESCAC play puts the Jumbos in first place as the lone undefeated team in the conference. With the setback the Continentals fall to 10-4 overall and 2-2 in conference games this season.

The two teams would trade the lead many times during the first half, with the game tied five different times in the first frame.  With things locked at 31 the Continentals took the lead with a three from Michael Grassey.  The Jumbos responded with a Savage jumper, followed by a three from junior Ben Engvall to give the home team the 36-34 lead.  After a free throw from Hamilton's Vincent Conn, the Jumbos added to their lead with two from junior Thomas Lapham and a dunk from Garrett.

The Continentals would get seven points from Peter Hoffmann in the final four minutes of the half, but the Jumbos built their lead and finished the half with a steal by Garrett and a deep three that bounced in at the buzzer to give the Jumbos the 42-53 lead at the half.

The Jumbos shot 52.5 percent from the half during the first half, giving them the edge on the Continentals' 37.8 percent, but the Continentals 54.5 percent from downtown was better than the Jumbos 38.9.

The Jumbos built upon their lead in the second half.  About seven minutes into the second half the Jumbos were up by 16, 69-53.  The visitors used two points from Hoffmann, followed by two from Kena Gilmour and two free throws from Conn to come within ten, 69-59.

With the Jumbos ahead ten, 71-61 after a Gilmour layup for Hamilton, the home team got two from Engvall, two from senior tri-captain Tom Palleschi and two free throws from classmate and fellow tri-captain Tarik Smith to move the lead to 16 again, 77-61. Tufts was able to hold on to that lead to pick up the 94-81 win.

Garrett was the point leader with 19 off the bench for the Jumbos and added four rebounds.  Smith finished with 16 points and four assists.  Engvall tallied 14 points, seven rebounds and three steals.  Savage was the only Jumbo to collect double-digit rebound numbers with ten boards to accompany his 12 points. Palleschi finished with six points, six boards and three blocks.  The Jumbos got 39 points from their bench and 11 different players scored for Tufts.

For the Continentals, Hoffmann led the charge with a game-high 22 points and seven rebounds, with three blocks.  Andrew Groll finished with 15 points and eight boards.  Gilmour tallied 13 points off the bench and added five rebounds to his efforts.

The Jumbos stay at home and will take the court again on Friday when they host Wesleyan for a 7 pm start.  Hamilton will be back in action Tuesday as they host SUNY Polytechnic with an 8 pm scheduled start.