Wesleyan Defeats No. 19 Tufts in OT Thriller, 78-77

Photo by Jonas Powell '18
Photo by Jonas Powell '18

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Down by two with just :03 seconds remaining in regulation, B.J. Davis '16 hit a pair of clutch free throws to force overtime, and a lay-up by Joseph Kuo '17 with :27 remaining in OT lifted the Wesleyan University men's basketball team to a thrilling win over NESCAC foe and nationally-ranked No. 19 Tufts University Friday night in Silloway Gymnasium, 78-77.

RECORDS
Wesleyan: 14-4, 2-3 NESCAC
Tufts: 12-4, 3-2 NESCAC

HOW IT HAPPENED

  • Trailing 33-28 at halftime, Wesleyan bounced back in the final 25 minutes of play to edge the Jumbos in thrilling fashion.
  • Four different Cardinals scored in double-figures as Davis and Rashid Epps '16 each registered a double-double. Davis posted game-highs of 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Epps dropped 18 points and pulled in 10 boards. Kuo scored 20 points in just 24 minutes of action, and also tallied eight rebounds, and Nathan Krill '18 added 12 points. Jack Mackey '16 dished out a game-high seven assists and Kevin O'Brien '19 added six.
  • Wesleyan shot 42.5% (31-73) from the floor and held a commanding lead in rebounds (55-39) and points in the paint (50-30).
  • Tufts had four players in double-figures as well, as Tom Palleschi led the way with 19 points and five rebounds. Vincent Pace dropped 18 and grabbed eight boards, and Tarik Smith and Ryan Spadaford each registered 14. The Jumbos shot 40.6% (28-69) from the floor, 37.5% (9-24) from three-point range and 60.0% (12-20) from the charity strip.

FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS

  • Trailing by one at the 16:35 mark, a lay-up by Krill a minute later opened up a six-point Wesleyan run as O'Brien found Krill for a dunk to cap off the stretch.
  • Tufts responded with a run of its own, however, and scored nine unanswered to take a 17-13 lead with 10:05 to play before the break.
  • The Jumbos extended their lead to nine shortly after, but Davis put the Cardinals within four with a lay-up followed by a three-pointer.
  • At the 4:37 mark, Mackey converted a spectacular pass to Krill for a lay-up as Wesleyan trailed 29-23.
  • Both teams exchanged baskets down the stretch as Tufts took a five-point lead into the break.

SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Jumbos came out strong to start the second and jumped out to their largest lead of the game at the 18:13 mark following a jumper by Palleschi. After a scoreless first half, Palleschi totaled 14 points within the first 8:22 of the second.
  • The 11-point lead was short-lived, however, as Wesleyan went on a 9-0 run in less than two minutes to cut the deficit to one at the 14:16 mark, 47-46.
  • Minutes later, Krill forced a Jumbos turnover, dished it to O'Brien who then found Davis for the fast break lay-up. Shortly after, Krill completed a three-point play and tied the game at 57-57 at the 9:16 mark.
  • From that point on, the game went back-and-forth and featured five more ties down the stretch.
  • With 1:19 remaining in regulation, Kuo connected on a pair of foul shots to give the Cardinals their first lead since the 12:24 mark of the first half.
  • Pace put the Jumbos back up by one, with a lay-up with just 0:18 left, and after a missed shot by Wesleyan nine seconds later, Tufts regained the possession and Smith went to the line.
  • Smith hit 1-of-2, giving the visitor's a 70-68 lead. Epps secured the rebound, and Davis was fouled on the outlet pass. He made both foul shots with :03 left to force overtime.

OVERTIME HIGHLIGHTS

  • Similar to the second half, both teams exchanged baskets often. The final five minutes featured six lead changes.
  • Smith connected on one from deep with 2:05 to play to give Tufts a 77-75 lead.
  • With 1:25 remaining, Krill put the Cardinals within one after a made foul shot, and after a missed opportunity by the Jumbos, Wesleyan responded with a Kuo lay-up to put the home team ahead.
  • In the closing seconds, Tufts forced a turnover on the inbounds but were unable to get off a good shot as Smith forced one from deep and missed, as the Cardinals prevailed, 78-77.

UP NEXT

  • Wesleyan returns to action tomorrow, Jan. 23 and will host Bates at 3 p.m.
  • Tufts remains on the road and will face Conn. College at 1 p.m.