The NYU men’s basketball team improved its record to 3-2 with an 82-72 win over the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts on Nov. 29. The Violets got off to a quick start in the first half, building a 40-26 lead after 20 minutes. The early advantage proved to be enough to carry the team to the end.
After an impressive start, the Violets looked to sustain their momentum for a full 40 minutes. The Violets were hot offensively all game long, shooting 64 percent from the field. Junior forward Evan Kupferberg led the way, scoring 25 points on an efficient 11 of 13 shooting. Kupferberg also set a career mark in assists with six.
Not far behind Kupferberg was junior center Costis Gontikas, who shot a staggering 80 percent from the field and racked up 21 points, five assists and nine rebounds. Gontikas has been an important contributor this season, averaging 15.2 points, eight rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game for the Violets.
The sophomore pair of forward Alec Papesch and guard Joe Timmes also contributed to the win. Papesch had seven points and seven boards while Timmes was effective on both ends of the court, scoring 11 points and leading the way defensively with two blocks.
Freshman point guard Ross Udine continued to prove his worth, scoring nine points and dishing out eight assists. Currently in his first season, he averages a solid seven assists per game. Udine attributed the win to the Violets getting off to a quick start.
“We jumped on them right off the tip and were able to establish a nice lead,” Udine said. “They went on a run late in the game, but we responded well and came out with a win.”
There is plenty to be optimistic about for the Violets. Through five games, the team has an average scoring differential of plus-12. The team has been highly efficient, shooting 53 percent per game and averaging nine more assists than its opponents per game. The Violets have also been dominant on the boards, with a rebound margin of plus-11.8 over their foes.
The Violets, however, have been hindered by turnovers. Thus far, they average 18.4 per game, 7.6 more than their opponents. Even with efficient offensive play, NYU has found itself on the losing end of games due to fixable mistakes.
That being said, the Violets are now above .500 for the first time since Nov. 15, and will look to improve upon their record in the coming weeks. Key players Kupferberg and Gontikas will need to continue their stellar play, while developing players such as Udine, Papesch and Timmes have to continue to grow as the season wears on.
Next up for NYU is the Stevens Institute of Technology on Dec. 6. Important conference games begin for the Violets in January, against familiar foes such as Brandeis University, Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Chicago. Postseason aspirations will rely heavily on these showdowns.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Dec. 1 print edition. Email Michael Thompson at [email protected]