No. 3 Tufts Rallies Past No. 23 Men’s Basketball in Regional Showdown

Aaron Todd

Medford, MA --- Junior Vincent Pace (Bridgewater, NJ) scored 23 points to lead No. 3 Tufts past No. 23 Men's Basketball, 75-71, Tuesday night in a non-conference game at Cousens Gymnasium.

The Jumbos remain unbeaten at 5-0 as the Engineers slip to 4-1.

Senior Tarik Smith (Bronx, NY) chipped in with 16 points as freshman Eric Savage (South Brunswick, NJ) and sophomore Ethan Feldman (New York, NY) totaled nine and eight, respectively. Junior Ben Engvall (Barrington, RI) pulled down six rebounds to go with five each from Pace and senior Tom Palleschi (Haverhill, MA). Junior Everett Dayton (Pacific Palisades, CA) doled out three assists.

WPI was paced by Medford-native senior Sean Doncaster who dropped a career-high 28 points on 8 of 13 from the field (3 for 5 from downtown) and 9 of 13 at the line. Junior Aaron Todd (York, ME) posted his first career double-double with 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting, including 3 for 3 from long range, and 11 rebounds – seven offensive - for the Engineers. Senior Ian Converse (Woodstock, CT) and junior Chris Rodgers (Franklin, MA) each recorded nine points as freshman Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) came up with five defensive boards.

The Engineers had better field goal (48.2-47.8) and 3-point (42.9-36.4) percentages while free throws were in Tufts favor (67.6-47.8). WPI outrebounded the hosts 36-29 which featured a 24-9 margin after 20 minutes. Turnovers were even at 14 while Crimson and Gray was able to benefit with three more points off turnovers (16-13). Points in the paint were also even while Tufts bench scored 24 more than its counterpart (35-11).

The Boynton Hillers had an 11-point lead with 2:05 to play in the first half, while the Jumbos were up by seven with two ticks remaining.

It was the Doncaster and Todd show for the first five-plus minutes as the duo combined to give the Engineers a 14-9 lead. The pair later teamed up for 15 more to in the final 7:53 of the half for the 36-28 WPI advantage.

Feldman's triple and layup, along with a pair of free throws by Engvall, brought the game within a point at 17:19. Junior Connor Willgress (Mill Creek, WA) responded for the guests with a layup 25 seconds later. From there it appeared the Crimson and Gray were going to pull away for good thanks to a 12-7 run, capped by a Rodgers layup at 12:50, for the 52-42 cushion.

Pace then made his presence known with eight of the next nine Tufts points. Dayton and Palleschi knotted the game at 54-54 and 56-56 at 10:35 and 8:29 respectively. After Rodgers and Doncaster made it 60-56, Pace hit a three and Engvall used a traditional three-point play for the final lead with 6:31 to go. WIllgress tied it up at 62 with a jumper at 5:15. Pace went on a personal five-point run as Smith canned five free throws preceded by a pair by junior KJ Garrett (Manhattan Beach, CA) in the final three-plus minutes.

WPI remains on the road for a 6pm game at Framingham State on Thursday. Tufts begins Big Four Tournament action Friday at Brandeis.