Hartford, Conn. – Freshman guard Eric Savage (South Brunswick, N.J.) came off the bench to total team-highs of 18 points and eight rebounds, leading the visiting Tufts University Jumbos to a 78-75 overtime victory against the Trinity College Bantams in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) men's basketball action this evening at Oosting Gymnasium. Trinity, which received a game-high 25 points from junior Eric Gendron (Merrimack, N.H.) and 23 points, 21 rebounds, and six blocked shots from senior co-captain Ed Ogundeko (Brooklyn, N.Y.), falls to 13-8 overall and 4-3 in the NESCAC with its second loss in a row. Tufts, ranked No. 9 nationally, improves to 17-4 overall and stays at the top of the league with a 7-1 record in NESCAC games.
Trinity came back from a 60-50 deficit with less than eight minutes remaining in regulation to force overtime with a 17-7 run to close the second half. Gendron assisted Ogundeko on a layup with 1:04 left to pull Trinity to within one point at 66-65, and Tufts junior guard K.J. Garrett (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) made one of two free throws with 20 seconds on the clock, before Gendron fed Ogundeko again for the game-tying bucket inside with 13 ticks remaining. Jumbo senior tri-captain guard Tarik Smith (Bronx, N.Y.) had a chance to win at the buzzer with a drive but his layup fell short and the second period ended at 67-all.
In the extra session, Trinity took a 71-69 lead early on a put-back by sophomore forward Connor Merinder (Andover, Mass.), and the Bantams led, 73-72, with 2:49 on the clock after two Gendron free throws, but Smith drained a long three-pointer for Tufts from the top of the key to put the visitors ahead, 75-73, a minute later. Trinity senior co-captain Chris Turnbull (Ridgewood, N.J.) tied on a drive down the middle with 1:35 left, but junior guard Everett Dayton (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) made two foul shots to push Tufts back ahead, 77-75, with just 13 seconds to go. Trinity got the ball inside to Ogundeko, but his short jump-hook bounced around the rim before falling off, and Jumbo junior Ben Engvall (Barrington, R.I.) grabbed the rebound and made a late free throw.
In the first half, Trinity took a 6-0 lead with three unanswered baskets in 70 minutes, but Tufts answered with a 7-0 run to lead, 7-6, at the 14:31 mark. Tufts pulled ahead and led by as many as 10 points at 30-20 with 3:02 left before the break on a trey by Savage, but the Bantams fought back and their deficit to six at 36-30 at halftime on a free throw by senior guard Langdon Neal (Chicago, Ill.). Trinity opened the second half strong, taking a 39-37 at the 15:43 mark lead on consecutive scores by Neal, Gendron and Ogundeko. The Jumbos took the lead back on another Savage trey to make the score, 44-42, with 13:48 remaining, and a layup junior Vincent Pace (Bridgewater, N.J.) pushed the visitors' lead up to 60-50. Turnbull scored on a traditional three-point-play and Neal converted off an offensive rebound for a 5-0 run that sparked the late comeback.
Trinity nearly overcame an off shooting night, as the Bantams shot 35.4 percent from the floor, 27.3 percent from long range, and missed 10 of 24 free throws. Tufts was only slightly better from the field at 39.7 percent and the charity stripe at 61.0 percent but made seven of 13 three-point attempts including three in four tries each by Smith and Savage. Neal joined Gendron and Ogundeko in double digits in scoring for the Bantams with 11 points to go with seven rebounds, seven assists, and three steals, while Merinder grabbed seven boards off the bench. Garrett finished with 17 points and seven rebounds off the Tufts bench, while Pace had 16 points and six boards, and Smith notched 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists for the Jumbos.