Stephenson Shines as Men’s Basketball Shoulders Setback to Tufts

Garrett Stephenson

WORCESTER – Senior Thomas Lapham (Manhattan Beach, CA) and sophomore Eric Savage (South Brunswick, NJ) totaled 30 first half points as Tufts defeated host WPI, 88-67, in what may prove to be an important non-conference matchup Tuesday night in Harrington Auditorium.

The Jumbos, the second team just outside the Top 25, level their record at 2-2 while the Engineers dip to 2-3.

The first 10-plus minutes were fast and furious featuring seven ties and three lead changes, including the eventual go-ahead 3-pointer by Lapham with 12:51 on the scoreboard. After missing their first two 3-pointers the Jumbos connected on their next six, incuding one by freshman Will Brady (Ridgefield, CT) to put the guests up by nine with 9:43 left in the half. The Engineers were only able to get within seven on four occasions the rest of the way. Tufts, meanwhile, enjoyed a double-digit advanatage for the final 2:51.

WPI was able to eventually whittle its deficit to six following a pair of free throws by sophomore Andreas Bitsos (Athens, Greece) midway through the second half. Tufts senior Vincent Pace (Bridgewater, NJ), who scored 17 of his 23 points after the break, helped get the margin back into double digits where it remained for the last 5:28 of the contest. Including the bucket before the double digit advantage, the Jumbos closed out the game with a 28-6 run.

Pace (23 points, 11 rebounds) and Savage (22 points, 12 rebounds) finished with double doubles while Lapham contributed with 19 points. Freshman Justin Kouyoumdjian (La Canada, CA) added eight points off the bench.

Freshman Garrett Stephenson (Townsend, MA) dropped a game-best 24 points on 11-of-15 shooting (all from inside the arc) with a pair of free throws. Bitsos handed in 10 points as he and rookie Ethan Harrell (Pittsburgh, PA) each grabbed seven rebounds.

WPI had the better numbers in second chance points (13-9), points in the paint (36-32) and off the bench (19-18) as Tufts scored 12 of the 18 points off turnovers.

The Engineers continue their week-long homestand Thursday with a 7pm contest versus Framingham State. The Jumbos travel to Newbury for a 7pm matchup, also on Thursday.