MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – The 14th-ranked Wesleyan University men's basketball team led roughly the entire game Saturday afternoon, but Tufts University rallied late to close the gap and take its first and only lead with 3:12 remaining. However, the Cardinals held the Jumbos scoreless the rest of the way en route to a thrilling 60-52 win on Senior Day in Silloway Gymnasium.
Antone Walker '21 led Wesleyan in scoring with 14 points while JR Bascom '18 recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds as the Cardinals improved to 16-4 overall and 5-2 in the NESCAC. Vincent Pace scored a game-high 19 points for Tufts as the Jumbos drop to 14-6 and 4-3 in league play.
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- Wesleyan opened the game on a 6-0 run. Walker hit a three at the 13:27 mark and then converted a four-point play on the Cardinals' next possession to put the home team ahead 17-7 with 11:42 remaining.
- Walker hit his first four shots of the game and scored 11-straight points for Wesleyan.
- David Dixon '20 increased the lead with a three-pointer followed by a layup to force a Tufts timeout with 8:55 on the clock as the home team led 24-9.
- The Cardinals' stifling defense held Tufts to just nine points in the first 11:45 of play.
- For most of the final 8:15 of the half the game went back-and-forth until a layup by Pace with 1:16 on the clock cut the deficit to eight.
- Walker got a shot off in the paint right before time expired that rolled in-and-out as the Cardinals led 34-26 at halftime.
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- Both teams struggled offensively for most of the second half.
- With 16:37 to play, a layup by Jordan Bonner '19 gave Wesleyan a 41-28 lead. However, the Cardinals went roughly four minutes without scoring as a three-pointer by Pace capped off an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to five.
- Walker put Wesleyan back up by double-digits (46-36) with a three-pointer at the 10:58 mark but again the Jumbos responded with seven unanswered points to get within three.
- Tufts slowly cut into the deficit and back-to-back baskets by Patrick Racy gave the visitors their first lead of the game, up 52-51 with 3:12 on the clock.
- The lead was short-lived though, as a free throw by Bonner just 24 seconds later put Wesleyan back on top.
- The Cardinals' defense, led by Jordan Sears '18, held the Jumbos scoreless the rest of the way as Wesleyan held off a late scare to defeat Tufts by eight.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Three players scored in double-figures for Wesleyan—Walker, Bonner (13) and Bascom. Sears was a force defensively, as he finished with eight boards, two steals, two blocks and two assists.
- Pace was joined in double-figures by Racy who dropped 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Eric Savage led the team in rebounding (9) and assists (4) while Pace also added eight boards.
- Wesleyan held a slight 47-46 edge in rebounding and led by as much as 15 in the first half. The Cardinals also held Tufts to a mere 17.2% shooting from downtown on 5-of-29 attempts.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:
- Prior to today's game, the Cardinals honored their three-member Class of 2018—Bascom, Nathan Krill, and Sears.
- Since joining the program as freshmen in 2014, the Cardinals have gone 72-27 (.727) overall with two NCAA Tournament appearances, two Little Three Championships, and Wesleyan's first-ever NESCAC Championship.
- The trio is the winningest class in program history.
- The Cardinals are back in action Friday, Feb. 2 and will play at in-state rival Trinity beginning at 7 p.m.