In a close bout between Emerson and Tufts on Nov. 28, the Lions just squeaked by the Jumbos 75–72 to hand Tufts its fifth loss of the season. The 2019 NESCAC champions continue to struggle without senior co-captain Luke Rodgers, who exited the first game of the season with a knee injury. Without Rodgers, junior guard and co-captain Tyler Aronson and junior guard Carson Cohen have taken the helm on the offensive end, but the lack of a major post presence has hurt the Jumbos during most of their efforts this season.
The first half consisted of a dominating performance from Emerson sophomore center Jarred Houston, who took advantage of Rodgers’ absence and finished the game with 21 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Cohen jump-started the Tufts offense by scoring 12 points in the first half, but the Jumbos entered the break down 40–36. Moreover, 3-point shooting continued to be an issue as the Jumbos successfully made only 17.6% of their shots from behind the arc and had to score most of their points in the paint instead.
The game was mostly back and forth throughout the first half, as the largest lead the Lions mustered was seven points. While the Jumbos improved on the defensive end, holding the Lions to around 50% from the field, they could never really find their offensive rhythm and struggled to take advantage of Emerson’s 10 turnovers.
In the second half, Tufts head coach Brandon Linton gave first-year forward Bobby Stewart minutes to play, but Stewart also had no answer for Houston, who went for nine points and 4 blocks in the second half. In the final 20 minutes, the Tufts starters also went a combined 0–10 from beyond the arc while no Jumbo broke double-digit scoring. Emerson improved to a 3–3 win-loss record for the year while Tufts holds a 1–5 record.
On a positive note, the Jumbos secured their first victory of the season over Lesley University in a blowout 99–76 win the day before the Emerson loss. Junior guard Dylan Thoerner and graduate student guard Brennan Morris took charge on offense by combining their efforts to score 34 points, which allowed Aronson and Cohen to take a facilitating role, racking up 13 assists.
Stewart was another bright spot in this game as he played 17 minutes and scored 10 points while grabbing four rebounds. The Jumbos dominated the boards, grabbing 14 more rebounds than Lesley and shooting 40% from the 3-point line. Although the first half featured a close game where the Tufts went into halftime down 45–44, the Jumbos took control in the second half and crushed Lesley, building a lead as big as 23 points.
Although the win against Lesley points to signs of improvement for the Jumbos, they have disappointed so far this season, as they were ranked 11th in the country before the season started. They have a great deal of work to get done if they hope to win the NESCAC Championship and make a playoff push. The team is still adjusting to playing without Rodgers and Linton is still tweaking the lineups to find the right mix. NESCAC play starts on Dec. 7, when the Jumbos face off against Wesleyan.