One week after a tough loss to undefeated Amherst, the women’s basketball team reasserted its NESCAC supremacy Saturday night, jumping ahead early en route to a 52-37 bashing of Hamilton College. With the win, the Jumbos clinched the No. 2 seed in the upcoming NESCAC playoffs and capped off an extremely successful regular season in which they went 8-2 in the league and 19-5 overall.
“It was very important to finish out the regular season with the win,” freshman center Hayley Kanner said. “We want to be feeling confident going into the NESCAC tournament, and this win was exactly what we needed.”
An early 11–4 run, capped by a three-pointer from junior guard Collier Clegg with 12:37 left in the first half, put the Jumbos up for good. With 53 seconds remaining in the half, freshman guard Kelsey Morehead drained a three-pointer that gave Tufts a 29-16 advantage heading into the break.
The Jumbos came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, dashing any aspirations the Continentals might have had for a second-half comeback. Tufts scored on its first two possessions of the half and extended the lead to 34-17. Hamilton closed the gap to 14, but that was as close as they would come for the rest of the night.
As has been the case all season, the Jumbos’ defensive effort sparked the victory. The Jumbos held the Continentals to a lowly 25 percent shooting clip from the field in the second half, and just 27.6 percent in the game. Tufts, which is ranked fourth nationally with 45.8 points allowed per game, gave up fewer than 40 points for the eighth time this year.
“I think the key to our team’s success this year has been our great defense and the fact that we have so much depth,” Kanner said. “We have nine different players who have been the leading scorer of a game, so it makes it difficult for other teams to scout and defend us.”
While it certainly was a strong defensive effort from the Jumbos, they also dominated in almost every other facet of the game. They shot a respectable 40.7 percent from the field while outrebounding the Continentals 43-31.
Sophomore Liz Moynihan led the Jumbos with 10 points, while Kanner and junior co-captain Bre Dufault added seven points apiece. Senior guard Tiffany Kornegay had another one of her incredible all-around performances, racking up six points as well as game-highs of 13 boards and five assists. The victory marks the Jumbos’ eighth win in their last 10 games, and, more importantly, sends the second-seeded Jumbos into the postseason on a high note.
On Saturday at 2 p.m., the Jumbos will welcome seventh-seed Conn. College to Cousens Gym for the NESCAC quarterfinals. The Camels are 16-6 on the year but only 5-5 against conference opponents, and the Jumbos beat them 51-21 on Jan. 21 in their best defensive effort since 2002. Still, the team is taking nothing for granted.
“We learned a lot from our first game against Amherst,” sophomore guard Caitlin McClure said. “If we get the chance to play them again it would be a great opportunity to make some adjustments and compete for the entire game, like we were able to do in the second half against them last time.”