St. Louis, Mo., Nov. 18, 2017 – The No. 9-ranked Washington University in St. Louis men's basketball team battled to the 34th Annual Lopata Classic Championship with a 98-94 win over No. 6 Tufts University Saturday at the WU Field House in St. Louis.
Senior guard Kevin Kucera had a double-double with 21 points and 10 assists and was named the Robert L. Burnes Most Valuable Player. Kucera averaged 20 points and 9.5 assists per game in the two WashU victories.
Senior forward Andrew Sanders poured in 20 points and seven rebounds and joined Kucera on the All-Tournament Team. Jack Davidson (Wabash), Josh Johnson (Webster), Patrick Racy (Tufts) and Eric Savage (Tufts) also earned All-Tournament Team honors.
Senior forward Matt Highsmith added 20 points and eight rebounds, while senior center David Schmelter had nine points and 10 rebounds. WashU shot 50 percent (34-for-68) from the field and had 21 assists and just nine turnovers.
WashU (2-0) raced out to an 11-0 lead behind six points from Sanders and four from Schmelter. Tufts started the game 0-for-4 from the field with four turnovers.
Back-to-back threes from junior center Marcus Meyer, the first of his career, pushed the lead to 23-11 with 11:43 to play. Tufts answered with a 9-3 run to trim the lead to 31-28, but WashU answered with a 9-0 run to get the lead back to double figures at 40-28.
Sanders led the Bears with 11 first-half points, while Highsmith added nine. Kucera had eight points and seven assists as WashU shot 51.5 percent (17-of-33) from the field. The Bears also had a 10-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
Highsmith's three-point play highlighted a 6-0 as the Bears lead grew to 13 (63-50). WashU took its largest lead of the game at 78-60 with 10:14 to play.
Tufts (1-1) would not go away, and got back into the contest with a 17-3 run to trim the lead to 82-80 with 5:48 to play. That would be as close as the Jumbos would get as four-straight points by Sanders and a free-throw by Kucera got the lead to seven.
Vincent Pace canned a three-pointer with six seconds left to make it 96-94, but Kucera made a pair of free-throws to seal the victory.
Savage had a double-double with 21 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists to lead Tufts, while Racy added 20 points and seven rebounds. The Jumbos shot 46.7 percent (35-for-75) from the field and hit 12 threes.
WashU opens a four-game road trip on Tuesday, Nov. 21, at Principia College (0-1). Game time is set for 7 p.m.
BEAR NOTEBOOK: WashU and Tufts met for the second time in school history, and the Bears have won both meetings … Head coach Mark Edwards won his 665th game, 10th most in NCAAA Division III history, and one shy of ninth place … Kucera moved past Kevin O'Connell into eighth in school history in assists (334).