Tufts Pulls Away Late to Defeat MIT, 77-61

Junior Andrew Acker
Junior Andrew Acker

MEDFORD, Mass. – Junior Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) recorded a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds, but it was not enough as Tufts University pulled away in the final five minutes to break open a close game and take a 77-61 victory over the Engineers. Tommy Folliard led Tufts with 15 points and eight rebounds off the bench. 

With 4:40 to play a driving layup by sophomore Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) had MIT (3-2) within a point at 61-60. Folliard answered with a three and it was all Tufts (5-1) after that. Acker made one of two free throws to bring it back to two points with four minutes left, but it would be the final points the Engineers would score in the game. Folliard hit another trey and Oliver Cohen made a layup to increase the Tufts lead to eight with two minutes to play. 

In what had been a good shooting night for MIT, the Engineers missed on their final eight shots of the contest. Forced to foul in the final two minutes, MIT saw the Jumbos hit all eight of their free throw attempts to ice the win.

A trey by sophomore Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) and a pair of baskets by Acker in the opening minutes gave MIT an early 7-4 lead, but Folliard, who hit on all three of his triple attempts, nailed his first of the game to tie things up at the 15:38 mark. Neither team could pull away and when Pedley hit on a layup two minutes later the score was tied again, this time at 11-all. 

A three pointer from Ryan Spadaford finished off a 9-2 spurt by Tufts that gave the Jumbos their largest lead of the game at 20-13. Tufts held their advantage for nearly the remainder of the half, answering all of MIT's attempts to make a run. Frankel hit four free throws in the final three and a half minutes of the half, however, helping the Engineers close out the first 20 minutes on a 6-3 surge that had them trailing by just four at the half, 34-30.

Pedley hit a shot to open the second half and cut the lead to a pair, but Tufts got back-to-back threes from Cohen and Kwame Firempong to make it 40-32 two and a half minutes in. Much like the first half, MIT could not put together a significant run and regain the lead. A Pedley three with 15:52 left pulled the Engineers back to within two at 42-40, but Tufts came back six with straight to put its advantage back at eight. 

Trailing by eight with 6:09 left, Pedley hit a trey and freshman Tim Butala (Monroe, Conn.) followed with a layup to cut the lead to three. Frankel followed with his layup to make it 61-60, but it would be as close as the Engineers would come as they suffered their first road defeat of the season.

Acker, whose 23 points was a career-high, was joined in double figures in scoring by Pedley who hit four three-pointers on his way to 14 points. Frankel also notched a career best with 10 points for the Engineers. Including Folliard, Tufts had four players in double figures, with Cohen and Firempong adding 13 points each and Tarik Smith netting 10. Hunter Sabety added eight rebounds and six blocks for the Jumbos. Tufts, which hit 9-of-16 threes, out shot MIT, 52 percent to 41 percent for the game and held a 33-30 edge on the boards.

MIT will be home for its next game, hosting Rhode Island College on Saturday, November 30 at 1:00 p.m. Tufts will not play until December 3 when it will take on WPI in Worcester at 7:00 p.m.