Women’s basketball breaks scoring record in win over Brandeis, starts 4–0

Sophomore forward Emily Briggs battles for possession during the Jumbos' 67–63 win over Babson on Jan. 29. Ray Bernoff / The Tufts Daily Archives

After a 26–5 season in which Tufts advanced to the Elite Eight, the No. 6 team in Div. III had some big expectations this year. First on the list for the Jumbos was a strong start to kick off the 2018–19 campaign, and after four straight blowout victories, things seem to be on track.

On Sunday, the Jumbos hosted the Brandeis Judges (1–3), winning 110–63 to break the program’s single-game scoring record. The teams traded buckets to start the game, with the Judges taking an early lead, 12–11. The Jumbos responded with a 13–3 run, however, and never relinquished control of the game, ending the first quarter on top 31–20.

The final 30 minutes followed similarly, as the hosts had the game in their hands by halftime, up 63–33. After tacking on another 28 points in the third quarter, Tufts was approaching record territory.

The program’s previous single-game scoring record was 108 points, a mark the team achieved against Norwich University in 1989. Against Brandeis, Tufts reached the century mark midway through the fourth quarter, putting the record in serious danger. First-year guard Sofia Rosa secured the historic rout with 57 seconds left, with a layup that extended the Jumbos’ advantage to 110–61.

The game marked the first time that Tufts has posted 100 points or more in coach Carla Berube’s 17-year tenure. While Berube celebrated the accomplishment, she also pointed out the team’s uncharacteristically poor defensive display, which has typically been a strong suit during her time at the helm.

“We made a lot of shots,” Berube said. “I wasn’t expecting to score that much, and I would have liked to see better defense and discipline, but it was fun to see how many plays we made for each other … The work that they’re putting in practice and outside of practice putting up shots is really paying dividends.”

The Jumbos have scored an average of 91.8 points per game in their first four games, an offensive explosion which senior guard and co-captain Jac Knapp attributes to the extra work the team has put in during practice.

“We’re excited,” Knapp said. “We’ve been all getting in the gym and putting up extra shots, and it’s clearly paying off.”

On Tuesday, Tufts took on Skidmore (1–4) in its first home game of the season. Much like in Sunday’s game, the teams battled back and forth for the first few minutes before the Jumbos caught fire. The team’s starters were relieved four minutes into the first quarter, as the bench sparked a 10–2 run to open up a 17–10 lead.

Tufts’ momentum carried over into the second quarter, outscoring Skidmore 31–8 in the 10-minute period. The second half was a bit more competitive, but the Jumbos were in the driver’s seat the whole way, winning 78–41. Knapp led the team with 13 points to go with five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

The Jumbos began their season in earnest in Vermont, participating in the Middlebury Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 16–17. The team showcased its scorching hot offense in its two victories at Middlebury, posting a combined 179 points.

Tufts hit the ground running against Lasell (2–4) on Nov. 17. The Jumbos played a picture-perfect first quarter, taking a 21–4 lead behind sophomore forward Emily Briggs’ seven points, Knapp’s three assists, and junior forward and co-captain Erica DeCandido’s six rebounds.

The trend continued, as the Jumbos spread the scoring wealth across their roster throughout the rest of the game: 12 players scored a bucket for the Jumbos during the game, with senior forward Katie Martensen (12 points) leading the way. The Lasers had little to offer on offense themselves, leading to a 90–30 Jumbos victory.

“We have a lot of really good players and a deep bench,” Berube said. “Everybody’s got the green light in their area, so if you’re working hard, hopefully you can get some easy scoring opportunities.”

The Jumbos tipped off their season on Nov. 16 against the Springfield Pride (2–3). Unlike in its other games so far this year, Tufts was unable to take control of the game in the first quarter, instead holding a slim 14–13 lead at the end of the period.

However, a 22–12 second-quarter advantage gave the Jumbos a double-digit lead at halftime. Springfield failed to generate a significant response in the second half, as Tufts also won the third and fourth quarters by double digits to wrap up an 89–51 victory.

Knapp said that the team’s first-years and sophomores are beginning to find their feet after a brief adjustment period, which has keyed Tufts’ strong start.

“We’re really developing great chemistry on and off the court,” Knapp said. “It’s been really fun and exciting. We can’t wait to keep moving forward.”

Now 4–0, the Jumbos will face their next challenge when they head to Williamstown, Mass. for the Williams Tournament. Tufts will tip off against New England College on Friday before facing either Williams or Alfred State the following day to kick off its December schedule.

Despite its impressive start to the season, Berube knows the team still has work to do, particularly on the defensive end.

“[We’re giving them] way too many open looks, and we’re fouling too much, giving them easy baskets,” Berube said. “[We need] a greater commitment to that end of the floor and better communication on that end of the floor, as well.”

The Jumbos’ game against the New England College Pilgrims will tip off at 8 p.m. on Friday.