Women’s Basketball | Despite weekend split, Jumbos control destiny for No. 2 seed

The defending national champion Lord Jeffs asserted their dominance on Saturday at Cousens Gym, downing the Jumbos 48-31 to notch their 41th straight victory. 

On an afternoon when the women’s basketball team honored its two seniors, co-captain forward Kate Barnosky and guard Tiffany Kornegay, for their contributions to the program, Tufts simply had no answers for the number one team in the nation.   

Coming off of a 75-54 victory over Trinity on Friday night, the Jumbos had an opportunity to take over the top spot in the conference with a win. But the Lord Jeffs opened the game with a 22-2 run, and while Tufts played excellent defense the rest of the way, it was too little, too late. 

“After they went on a huge run to start the game it was hard to get back into it mentally,” Barnosky said. “When we played with more confidence things got better.”

Tufts falls to 18-5 with the loss, and remains alone in second place in the NESCAC with a 7-2 record in conference play.

The Jumbos held Amherst to a season-low 48 points on 33.3 percent shooting, but they struggled offensively throughout the game. They shot just 17.9 percent from the field, including 1-of-11 on 3-pointers, and endured stretches of over nine minutes in both halves in which they were held scoreless.

Outside shooting woes have continuously plagued the Jumbos lately, and in their two losses this week they shot a combined 2-for-29 from beyond the arc.

“The way to solve that [shooting problem] is just trying to get it inside and make the easy ones,” junior co-captain Bre Dufault said. “I don’t think we really want to change our gameplan — sometimes we just don’t execute.”

  Amherst — a squad that leads the NESCAC in almost statistical category — had the height advantage at almost every position, which made it especially difficult for Tufts to get off clean shots. 

“The game plan was to attack and execute our offense by attacking and getting the ball into the post,” Barnosky said. “They are a really good defensive team and they made us rush our shots. We weren’t really taking the shots we wanted to take.”

Leading the way for the Lord Jeffs was senior forward Lem Atanga McCormick, who contributed 13 points, four rebounds and four blocks. Senior forward Jackie Renner also pitched in with eight points, eight rebounds and four blocks.

The Jumbos did an impressive job slowing down Amherst’s star guard, senior co-captain Caroline Stedman. Stedman was held to eight points on 3-of-13 shooting, well below her season averages of 13.8 points on 40.6 percent shooting.

Tufts also limited Megan Robertson, Amherst’s third-leading scorer, to six points, and Kim Fiorentino, who averages around 10 per game, to five points on 1-of-12 shooting.

Barnosky led the Jumbos with seven points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Kornegay, who ranks second in the NESCAC with 8.3 rebounds per game, had a game-high 16 boards, and is making a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year honors.   

On Friday night, the Jumbos stomped Trinity 75-54, clinching a first-round home game for the NESCAC tournament as 10 different Jumbo players scored. 

Kornegay put together one of her best all-around performances of the season with 14 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Morehead chipped in with 13 points, including three 3-pointers, four rebounds and three assists. It all culminated in a 49-point second half that allowed coach Carla Berube to rest her starters for much of the second.

Despite the loss to Amherst, if the Jumbos can beat 8-12 Hamilton next weekend, they will clinch the No. 2 seed in the NESCAC playoff tournament.