Returning from Thanksgiving break, the No. 9 ranked Tufts women’s basketball team chalked up a 76-50 win over Clark University on Sunday to continue its undefeated start to the season. With the win, the Jumbos move to 5-0, with Clark dropping to 3-3. Sophomore Emma Roberson led all scorers with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, making 2 of 5 from beyond the arc.
Four Jumbos scored in double figures on the day: Roberson with 16 points, junior Hayley Kanner with 12 points, senior tri-captain Caitlin McClure with 11 points and junior Hannah Foley with 10 points.
“It was a real team effort, everyone played, which is always really fun, and everyone contributed, whether it was with points or off rebounding, offensively or defensively,” McClure, who is also an assistant features editor, said.
Junior Kelsey Morehead, who chipped in three assists and six rebounds on the day, pointed to the team’s depth to explain its continued success.
“What’s really special about our team is that on any given day, I know someone will step up and play well. In almost every game it’s been someone different,” she said.
Foley finished with a double-double, scoring 10 points and racking up 11 rebounds, leading Tufts’ dominance on the boards, as the Jumbos outrebounded the Cougars 49-36.
“[Foley] came out with a huge double-double, and for a guard to get that many rebounds is awesome, and really shows the strength of our team,” Kanner said.
First year Michaela North added to the rebound total with 10 rebounds in 10 minutes. Tufts’ ability to collect missed shots and make second-chance baskets kept them in control despite shooting under 40 percent from the field for the game.
“I think we did a really good job, especially in the second half, of bringing the energy and trying to get a lot of offensive rebounds, especially since our shots weren’t falling,” McClure said. “We kept with it and tried to find other ways to score.”
Led by three players scoring in double digits, freshman Aretha Sullivan with 12 points, senior Ashleigh Condon with 11 points and senior Emily Reilly with 10 points, the Cougars twice came within three points of the Jumbos in the first half, 16-13 with 10:45 left on the clock and 18-15 at the 9:04 mark. With less than five minutes left in the half, the Jumbos went on a 12-3 run against the Cougars, building up a 14-point advantage to lead 38-24.
The Jumbos’ focus on defense was best displayed at the start of the second half, with the team holding Clark scoreless until Condon’s jumper at 15:22 made the score 43-26. This 17-point deficit would be the closest the Cougars would get for the rest of the game, with the largest lead held by the Jumbos extended to 28 points three times in the last half.
This defensive emphasis is something Tufts will continue working on as the season progresses.
“I would definitely say that our defense still needs a bit more working on. We hold ourselves to a really high standard so I wouldn’t say that we’re quite there yet,” Morehead said.
Following her 19-point performance against Brandeis, Kanner’s playing time was limited to 21 minutes on Sunday due to foul trouble. She finished the game with four personal fouls.
“I’ve been having trouble with [fouls] this year. I’m adjusting to the new rule,” she said. “That’s just on me to be more conscious of what I’m doing and not do it.”
The Jumbos have increased their national prominence in recent years with coach Carla Berube featured in SLAM magazine earlier this year and the team reaching the Sweet 16 stage of the Div. III NCAA Championship for two years running. D3hoops.com ranked the Tufts women’s basketball team 10th nationally before the season started. The team, however, is intent on staying focused on its game and not letting this extra attention serve as a distraction.
“We’re going to have the exact same practice whether or not we’re ranked No. 10 or we’re completely unranked, and I think that’s an awesome testament to the coaching staff – that they’re able to tap this mentality in our heads,” Kanner said. “Whatever ranking we are, we’re going to come and play exactly the same, focus on the exact same principles and concepts. We’re not going to let the rankings define who we are as a team.”
The win against Clark kicks off a busy four-game week for the Jumbos, with the team hosting Salem State on Tuesday 7 p.m., Fitchburg State on Thursday 7 p.m. and Conn. College at 12 p.m. on Saturday.