Middlebury dropped its second NESCAC contest in three days as the Panthers fell 80-63 on the road at Tufts' Cousens Gym on Sunday afternoon. Tarik Smith scored 20 points and Tom Palleschi added 18 to lead the Jumbos. Middlebury returns to action on Tuesday with a game at Castleton.
Middlebury had overcome a 12-point halftime deficit to tie the score at 47-47, but it was all Jumbos from there as they improved to 1-0 in NESCAC and 5-7 overall. Tufts shot 61.5 percent (16.26) in the second half and made 31-58 shots overall for a 53.4 percentage.
The Panthers, who entered the weekend undefeated, dropped to 9-2 and 0-2 in NESCAC. Dylan Sinnickson led the visitors with a game-high 25 points, hitting 10-16 shots.
Tufts controlled the first half. An early 13-5 run gave the hosts an 18-11 advantage on a layup by Stephen Haladyna at 12:47. Middlebury cut the gap to eight (24-16) with a jumper by Bryan Jones at 8:35, but the Jumbos led 38-26 at the break.
The Jumbos had 10 second-chance points in the opening half as Palleschi made four of five shots and scored 10 points with five rebounds (three offensive). Haladyna had seven in the half for the Jumbos. Sinnickson's 11 points led Middlebury at intermission while Matt St. Amour scored five.
Middlebury seized the momentum in the opening seven minutes of the second half. A 21-9 stretch during that span tied the game at 47-47 on a straight-away three by Connor Huff with 13:50 on the clock.
Smith, who scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half, answered with a three at the other end and Tufts never trailed again. The Jumbos scored seven straight after Middlebury's tying three and led 54-47 with 12:21 remaining in regulation.
The closest the Panthers would get over the remainder of the contest was six at 56-50 following a pair of free throws by Dean Brierley with 10:46 to go. The Jumbos responded with eight consecutive points, four from Haladyna, to lead 64-50 at the 8:18 mark. The Tufts margin would not dip below double-digits from that point and peaked at 19 (72-53) on a layup by Vincent Pace at 5:14.
Palleschi added seven rebounds, while Ben Ferris also had seven for Tufts. The hosts posted a +9 in rebound margin (37-28). Haladyna finished with 11 points while Ferris and Pace both had eight.
Huff's 10 points and six rebounds helped Middlebury, which shot 40.7 percent (22-54) for the game. Sinnickson led with seven boards while Jake Brown and Hunter Merryman both finished with seven points and three assists.