Hamilton College's Michael Grassey '19 scored the go-ahead basket in the final minute and his free throw with four seconds left clinched an 87-83 NESCAC win for the Continentals against the Tufts University Jumbos at Hamilton's Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Saturday afternoon.
The nationally ranked No. 11 Continentals (19-2, 5-2 NESCAC) won for the third time in the last six days. Hamilton trailed by as many as 14 points late in the first half and didn't take its first lead until there was 4:16 remaining in the second. The Continentals held a 54-34 advantage in points in the paint.
Tufts (10-12, 4-5) held a 44-42 edge on the boards and led for the majority of the first 35 minutes. The score was tied twice -- once at 2-2 and again at 75-75.
Grassey finished with 12 points and seven rebounds and was one of four seniors honored at halftime. Peter Hoffmann '19 poured in a game-high 21 points and Tim Doyle '19 chipped in 10. Hoffmann is 14th on the program's all-time list with 1,346 career points. Andrew Groll '19 contributed nine points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.
Spencer Kendall '21 made all four of his shot attempts and ended up with nine points for Hamilton. Nick Osarenren '22 was 3 of 3 from the field and had eight points, and Mark Lutz '20 added eight. Kena Gilmour '20 handed out six assists for the second day in a row.
Luke Rogers paced the Jumbos with 20 points, 10 boards and two blocked shots. Justin Kouyoumdjian drained four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points. Eric Savage scored 11 and Brennan Morris and Carson Cohen registered 10 apiece as Tufts placed five players in double figures in scoring.
Kouyoumdjian gave Tufts its last lead at 83-82 on a deep 3-pointer from the right wing with 54.2 seconds to go. The Continentals missed a shot from beyond the arc but the rebound was knocked out-of-bounds off one of the Jumbos. Grassey received the ball in the post after the inbounds pass and powered his way to the basket for a layup with 32 seconds left.
The Jumbos turned the ball over on a traveling violation with 19.1 seconds remaining and were forced to foul Doyle, who made both free throws with 17.4 seconds to go. Tufts' shot to tie the score was off the mark and Grassey grabbed the defensive rebound and was fouled. He sank the first free throw for the four-point lead that sealed the victory.
The Jumbos jumped out to a 9-2 advantage and led the rest of the first half. A layup by Rogers staked Tufts to its first double-digit lead at 16-6 six minutes into the half. Hamilton closed to within two at 21-19 and 24-22 on 3-pointers by Osarenren midway through the half. The Jumbos responded with a 15-3 run capped by a Rogers basket in the paint that made it 39-25 with 4:20 left.
The Continentals scored the next eight points to get within six and went into the break trailing 46-37. Rogers already had 14 points and Tufts was 6 of 14 from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes.
The Jumbos' lead fluctuated between three and 10 points the first seven minutes of the second half until Hamilton's Sayo Denloye '20 hit a driving layup that cut the Continentals' deficit to one at 61-60 with 12:14 remaining. Neither team led by more than five points the rest of the way.
Morris' two free throws with 7:06 to go put Tufts up by five at 73-68. Hamilton finally moved in front with a 13-3 spurt that covered the next four minutes. Groll started the run with a free throw and added a layup. The teams exchanged free throws before Grassey pulled the Continentals even at 75-75 on a 3-pointer with 4:46 left. Grassey found Hoffmann for a basket from close range, Savage went 1-for-2 at the line for the Jumbos, and Hamilton took an 81-76 lead on two free throws apiece by Doyle and Hoffmann. The Continentals held on to their slim lead until the final minute. Doyle scored all 10 of his points after halftime. Hamilton shot 50 percent from the field in the second half.
The Continentals travel to Middlebury College (17-5, 6-2) for another conference game on Friday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.