Women’s Basketball | Tufts turns things around in second half to remain undefeated

The women’s basketball team continued its hot start to the year by recording its sixth straight double-digit win, with a 63-44 victory over Connecticut College this past weekend. The Jumbos moved to 8-0 for the season, with the Camels falling to 4-4.

But the win, which came against a conference opponent but will not count in the NESCAC standings, was hardly a cakewalk. After two initial baskets that tied the game at 2-2, Conn. College connected on three consecutive baskets to give them a 9-6 lead five minutes into the game. 

Then the Camels proceeded to go on a 14-8 run to lead by nine points, 23-14, their biggest lead of the game. With 4:41 left in the half, Tufts coach Carla Berube called for a timeout. Afterwards, junior guard Hannah Foley scored a three-point shot, igniting a Jumbos offense that cut the deficit to six at half time. 

This would be the first time in eight games that the Jumbos trailed at the half, and their worst first half shooting percentage of the whole season. They shot just 26.7 percent from the field in the first half compared to the Camels, who shot 47.6 percent. The Camels had also outrebounded the Jumbos 19-16, although the Jumbos’ eight offensive rebounds kept the score close going into halftime.

“We didn’t shoot the ball very well in the Fitchburg State game [on Dec. 5], and it carried over into the first half of this game,” Berube said.

But the second half was a completely different story. The Jumbos came into the final 20 minutes hot, going on a 9-2 run and taking the lead with 14:33 left on the clock, their first lead since 10:21 in the first half. Tufts outscored Conn. College 44-19 in the second half, a return led by senior tri-captain Liz Moynihan’s 11 points, junior guard Kelsey Morehead’s nine points and Foley’s six points.

Tufts also shot 52 percent from the field, and were 6-of-10 from beyond the arc in the game’s second stanza. Morehead, who played all 40 minutes of the game, was 3-of-4 from beyond the three-point line, and Moynihan was a perfect 3-of-3 from three-point range.

But Berube attributed much of the comeback to what happened on the other end of the floor.

“We played much tighter defense in the second half. We made it much harder for them in their scoring opportunities,” she said.

“When our shots aren’t falling, that’s one thing, but we can always control our defense, so when [our opponents] get into streaks of scoring we just need to pick it up on our defensive end,” Foley added.

The Jumbos’ resilience was best displayed by a single possession that came with approximately 12 minutes left in the game. Tufts grabbed five consecutive offensive rebounds, and then converted a three-point attempt, exciting the crowd.

Tufts also held Conn. College to just 9-of-27 shooting from the field in the second half en route to its 19-point victory. 

“This is our last game before a big break and we wanted to go on the break on a good note knowing that we played a great game of Jumbo basketball,” Foley said.

This was also the first game for the Jumbos against a NESCAC opponent, and although it was not a conference game, it was especially significant for the team.

“[Conn. College] is a very good team. It wasn’t like we were just playing terrible basketball [in the first half]. They’re good and they’re going to do some damage in the NESCAC for sure,” Berube said.

The Jumbos resume their season at Hartwick College on Dec. 30, and the team remains confident that its unbeaten run can continue.

“I love the team. There’s so much talent, but there’s so much more,” Moynihan said. “[Every player] really cares, and you can tell the drive … is what is really going to take us far. We’re a talented team, but we’re also a team that really cares.”