Following game-winning performances against Colby and Bowdoin last weekend that saw Tufts into the NESCAC playoffs, sophomore Stephen Haladyna was rewarded with NESCAC Player of the Week honors on Feb. 17. The sophomore was the first Jumbo to be recognized on the men’s team this season, and the first to win the award since teammate Ben Ferris on Jan. 16, 2012.
After consecutive losses at Hamilton and at Williams on Feb. 7 and 8, respectively, Tufts was at risk of missing postseason play for the first time in four years. The team needed to win its last two conference games to have any hope of making the playoffs, and were going up against two teams ranked above it in the standings.
Enter Haladyna, who against Colby on Feb. 14 scored 15 points, making 2 of 3 from 3-point range and converting all seven of his attempts from the line, including four clutch free throws in overtime to seal the come-from-behind victory for the Jumbos.
The following day, desperately needing a win against No. 24 ranked Bowdoin, Haladyna came through once again, matching his career high with 23 points as the Jumbos took down the Polar Bears 66-62 in the last game of the regular season.
The wins were enough to guarantee the No. 7 seed and a playoff berth for Tufts in a season where the team has struggled with injuries and battled through adversity for much of the year.
Haladyna finished the weekend averaging 19.0 points per game, on 11 for 16 (68.8 percent) shooting, including shooting an exceptional 66.7 percent on 3-point attempts.
The sophomore has built on his successful freshman campaign, averaging 12.4 points per game, good for 18th in the NESCAC. After missing four early games to illness, Haladyna’s play has steadily improved, especially in league play where he has averaged 13.4 points per game-15th best in the conference.
Tufts finished its season Saturday afternoon with an 87-77 overtime loss to No. 9 Williams in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC playoffs. Haladyna scored 20 points in the losing effort, shooting 50.0 percent from the field.