Nwokeji and Arsenault toss in 23 points for Panthers
MEDFORD, Mass. – Sophomore Vincent Pace netted a career-high 26 points Tuesday evening to help the Tufts University men's basketball team deal visiting Plymouth State University its first loss of the season, 91-80, at Cousens Gym .
The Jumbos jumped out to an early first half lead and would not trail again in the contest. The Jumbos move to 6-2 on the season, while the Panthers fall to 8-1.
Senior Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.) and junior Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) led the Panthers with 23 points apiece, with Nwokeji grabbing eight rebounds. Sophomore Brian Boulay (Keene, N.H.) added 10 points and six assists in the setback.
After an initial layup by the Panthers' Arsenault, the Jumbos scored 11 straight points to take an early 11-2 lead. Nine of those 11 points were netted by senior tri-captain Stephen Haladyna. The Panthers then scored six, thanks to two buckets from junior Jack Preston (Nashua, N.H.) to come within three midway through the first half.
The Panthers cut the margin to one point with just under seven minutes remaining in the first half, but a layup by Pace and five points from junior Tarik Smith extended the Jumbos lead again. Senior tri-captain Ryan Spadaford added a three-point play of his own to help extend the Jumbo lead to 11 with just under five minutes remaining in the first half.
Arsenault would not let his team out of it though, draining six consecutive points, and at the end of the first half the Jumbos would lead 40-33. Arsenault led all first half scorers with 12 points, while the Jumbos were led by Pace's ten.
The home team was able to grow their lead in the second half, leading by as many as 19 during the second frame. Junior tri-captain Tom Palleschi opened up the Jumbos scoring in the second half with a layup, and Pace followed with seven points of his own to help the Jumbos build their advantage.
Nwokeji kept the Panthers in the game, scoring 17 second-half points. With just under nine minutes left in the game, Spadaford put the Jumbos ahead by 19, which would be their largest lead of the game. The Panthers would chip away, and cut that lead down to as few as eight with just under two minutes remaining in the game. But, the Jumbos were able to hold on to the advantage, and picked up the 91-80 win.
Pace led all Jumbo scorers with 26 points, adding five rebounds. Smith finished with 15 points and Haladyna turned in 14 points. Palleschi added 11 rebounds to his 11 points and five blocks on the evening. The Jumbos went to the free-throw line a total of 33 times in the contest, including 27 in the second half alone. Smith led the Jumbos there with a perfect 10-for-10 mark from the free throw line.
Plymouth State takes the court again on Thursday when they host Salem State for a 7:30 pm tip off. The Jumbos will be back in action after Christmas, when they travel to Cal Lutheran for the Cal Lutheran Invitational. Tufts opens up play with a 7 pm contest against Whitman on December 29.
(Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information)
-- 30 --