Men's Hoops With 16th Win At Tufts

February 8, 2008

Ben Rudin scored 17 points and classmate Aaron Smith added 16 points and 14 rebounds as Middlebury stayed a step ahead of Tufts University all night for an 85-76 NESCAC victory on Friday at Cousens Gymnasium. Middlebury reaches the 16 win plateau for the first time since the 1974-75 season.

Middlebury, which also got 14 points on 4 for 5 three-point shooting by Andrew Harris, improved to 16-5 overall and 4-2 in NESCAC. The Jumbos (10-11, 0-6) were led by 20 points from Ryan O'Keefe.

The visiting Panthers had an early 12-4 advantage, with Rudin scoring six early points. They were still up eight (23-15) on a lay-up by Smith with 9:44 to play until halftime, but Tufts got five points from O'Keefe during a 7-0 spurt that cut the Middlebury lead to 23-22 at 8:06.

As would become a pattern for the game, the Panthers were able to hold off Tufts. Harris drilled a three-pointer on Middlebury's next trip up the floor and it was 26-22 Panthers. The one-point margin was as close as Tufts would be for the rest of the game as Middlebury never trailed. Tufts was never far behind, but could not get over the hump.

The Panthers led 39-36 at intermission. Smith had eight points and seven rebounds in the first 20 minutes. O'Keefe had nine points at the break for the Jumbos.

Rudin opened the second half with a jumper to put the Panthers up 41-36. Five times in the first 10 minutes of the second half it was a one-possession game. A three-point play by Jumbo Pat Sullivan pulled Tufts within 52-49 at 15:32 of the second half. Middlebury answered by scoring the next four points to push the margin back up to seven (56-49).

The closest Tufts would get in the second half was 58-56 following a three-pointer by Jake Weitzen. However, consecutive lay-ups by Smith gave Middlebury some breathing

room at 62-56 with 11:11 on the clock. The Jumbos were behind four, 62-58, after a jumper by Jeremy Black at 10:35, but Middlebury got points from four different players during an 8-2 run that made it 70-60 with 5:14 to play.

The Jumbos were within five (70-65) as the clock ticked under four minutes, but two three-pointers by Harris and good free throw shooting down the stretch sealed the win for the Panthers.

Tim Edwards was active with 11 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals. The Panthers were 8 for 13 from three-point range (61.5 percent).