Fresh off winning the Ramada Roundball Invitational two weekends ago, the fourth-ranked women’s basketball team swept its two-game homestand this past week with a couple of resounding non-conference victories — first against Hartwick College, then against Brandeis.
At 2-0 Tufts was hitting its stride, and one was reminded of last season, when the Jumbos rattled off 21 straight victories until it encountered a Babson team to which it would ultimately fall 58-52. Led by the nucleus of senior tri-captains Kelsey Morehead, Hayley Kanner and Hannah Foley, Tufts marched onward at Cousens Gym, deploying its scorched-earth style of play to great effect.
Tufts notched its most lopsided win thus far this season against Hartwick in a 70-32 victory, allowing fewer points in a game than it had given up all of last season, when it surrendered 33 twice. The loss sent Hartwick to an 0-3 record.
Through the team’s first four games, the Jumbos’ bench has been solid, playing big minutes in blowouts and closing out games without difficulty.
“It’s huge to get our bench going early in the season,” Kanner said. “It’s a great opportunity to give some of the newcomers more experience and helps build confidence, both of which are incredibly useful down the road. It’s very hard to guard a team that is able to empty its bench and still perform.”
But the game on Saturday was a much tougher test, as Brandeis, like Tufts, had yet to lose this season. As such, Tufts would not coast to victory against Brandeis, but after a neck-and-neck first half that witnessed several changes in the lead, Tufts took over in the second period to win comfortably.
Foley and sophomore forward Michela North combined for 38 points on 16-32 shooting, most of those coming in the midst of a 47-28 second half, as they galvanized their teammates down the stretch after having failed to distance themselves for much of the game.
Both Foley and North were active on the glass as well, with Foley grabbing seven boards and North 11 for her first double-double of the season.
“Ideally we don’t want to wait until the second half to get things together,” Kanner said. “Against Brandeis we were able to pull our defense together, and Hannah and our shooters were able to go off, but we don’t want to have to wait for the second half for that to happen. We should always be playing like we have a chip on our shoulder, which started to happen in the second half.”
After a pair of free throws by senior guard Hannah Cain brought the Judges within five points three minutes into the second half, the Jumbos went on a 7-0 run, and the Judges did not come within 10 points for the rest of the game. At the 5:26 mark, Morehead dished to Foley behind the arc, who drained a three-pointer to extend Tufts’ lead to 59-43 and effectively ice the game. Foley was 4-6 from downtown in the second half, making two of those shots at critical junctures.
With these two victories, Tufts moves to the 4-0 on the season. The team will look to remain unbeaten when it travels to Eastern Connecticut State University tonight to take on the Warriors.