Burt, Johnson top Panthers in non-conference setback
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Sophomore Hunter Sabety (Oceanside, N.Y.) and junior Stephen Haladyna (South Hamilton, Mass.) combined for 37 points on 15-of-20 shooting Tuesday evening as Tufts University held off Plymouth State University, 84-78, in non-conference men's basketball action at Foley Gymnasium.
Sabety and Haladyna led a hot-shooting Jumbos' squad that converted 68 percent for the game (34-of-50), and 61.5 percent from three-point range (8-of-13). Sabety made 9-of-11 shots, mostly in the paint, while Haladyna drained 6-of-9 attempts, including 3-of-4 from three-point range. Freshman Thomas Lapham (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) added 12 points off the bench as Tufts improved to 3-6.
Senior Alex Burt (Dover, N.H.) made 5-of-7 shots from three-point land for PSU and 7-of-11 overall to finish with a game-high 22 points. Sophomore Ernie Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) poured in a career-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting (3-of-6 from long-range), and sophomore Nathan Clarke (Reading, Mass.) chipped in with 10 points and six assists, but PSU fell to 3-5.
Plymouth State shot nearly 52 percent in the first half, but the visitors made 62 percent of their shots and had an 18-8 advantage on the board to take a 41-34 lead into the break. Johnson was hot for the home squad with a team-high 12 points and four assists in the first half to keep the margin close.
Tufts pushed the margin back up to double digits several times in the second half, sparked by a pair of dunks by Sabety in the first three minutes. PSU hung around and Burt caught fire, making consecutive three-pointers to pull the Panthers to within three points, 66-63, with 8:20 remaining. The Jumbos responded with a 13-4 burst over the next four minutes, including threes by Lapham and Haladyna, to get the lead back up to 12 points, 79-67, with four minutes to go.
PSU rallied again, pulling to within three points (81-78) with 56 seconds remaining after consecutive threes from sophomore Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) and Johnson. Tufts pulled the game out with solid defense and converting free throws down the stretch.
Plymouth State closes out the first semester of action with a Thursday night affair at longtime rival Salem State University (7:30 p.m.), while Tufts is done playing until a January 6 home game vs. Newbury College.
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