Senior guard/forward and co-captain Erica DeCandido scored 19 points against both Brandeis University and Skidmore College to lead the women’s basketball team to two consecutive wins. These wins bring the No. 2 ranked Jumbos to an undefeated 5–0 this season.
On Tuesday, the Jumbos defeated the Skidmore Thoroughbreds 66–43. Both DeCandido and senior guard Cailin Harrington put up game-high 19 points. With the loss, Skidmore dropped to 2–4 on the season.
Harrington scored the first eight points for the Jumbos in just over five minutes to give the Jumbos an 8–2 lead. Three-pointers from Harrington and junior guard Erin Poindexter McHan as well as points from DeCandido and sophomore guard Sofia Rosa brought Tufts to a dominating 23–7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
DeCandido reflected on the Jumbos’ defensive performance.
“After the Brandeis game, which was so close, we went in and worked on our defense, and we came out and only allowed [Skidmore] to have seven points in the first quarter,” she said. “Our defense was a lot better in the Skidmore game, we worked more as a team, and knocked out a lot of shots.”
Tufts dished out 20 assists, had 48 rebounds and gained its largest lead of the game, 27 points, with 4:33 left in the game. DeCandido and senior guard Sadie Otley tied for a game-high eight rebounds each.
The Jumbos defense held the Thoroughbreds scoreless for nearly eight minutes in the first half and never gave up their lead.
Three days before on Saturday, Nov. 23, Tufts narrowly beat Brandeis 81–77 in a fourth-quarter thriller. The game saw 21 lead changes. Despite efforts by Brandeis guard Camila Casanueva, who put up a career-high 32 points, the Judges could not hold onto their lead in the last few seconds of the game. This was Brandeis’ first loss of the season (4–1).
Coach Jill Pace offered her thoughts about the game.
“We played against a really great Brandeis team,” Pace said. “It was close the whole way and it was really great for us to be in those situations, especially the end of game situations, so it was a good test for us.”
Tufts trailed until about four minutes into the game when DeCandido made a layup to tie the game at 9–9. Rosa then added a layup of her own to give the Jumbos their first lead of the game. This lead did not last long, however, as the Judges responded less than a minute later to tie the game again.
The game continued to be a back and forth battle, consisting of 10 ties and 21 lead changes throughout the four quarters. Even though Tufts trailed at the end of each of the first three quarters, Brandeis never held a lead larger than eight points.
Many other factors of this game were tightly matched, including the fact that both teams were unbeaten going into the matchup. Tufts edged out Brandeis in rebounds, collecting 37 to the Judges’ 30. Both teams had 16 assists, and the Jumbos ended with a 46.7 field goal percentage to the Judges’ 43.8%. Brandeis converted better in 3-pointers, making half of its attempts while Tufts made a third.
Following DeCandido’s 19 points, Harrington put up 15, and both sophomore guard Molly Ryan and Rosa put up 14 for the Jumbos. These four combined for 35 of Tufts’ 40 points in the first half.
DeCandido spoke about the win.
“Our defense definitely was struggling at first, we weren’t really playing team defense but what worked was our effort,” she said. “The second half we decided to outwork them, which really worked for us and although the game was close we were able to make free throws at the end and outwork them to get rebounds.”
Tufts trailed by one point to start the fourth quarter. Points by DeCandido, junior guard/forward Emily Briggs, Rosa, and Harrington, as well as 3-pointers by Ryan and senior guard and co-captain Lilly Paro, clinched the Jumbos the lead with 28 seconds left.
Pace talked about the teams’ strengths offensively and defensively in these past two games.
“We’ve been passing the ball really well in these past couple of games, so just sharing the ball,” Pace said. “We’ve been pushing offensively in transition super well in both of those games. Defensively, we’re just a gritty tough team and our players really care about defense as does our coaching staff.”
Tufts plays Emerson tonight with a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. Emerson is currently 3–3 on the season but is coming off a dominant 87–64 win over Emmanuel last Tuesday. Tufts is looking to come out with a strong defensive effort — it’s what the team has been working on all week.
“We continue to work on our defense, that’s something we cherish and we want it to be the best that it can be,” DeCandido said. “So every day we just work on that, and also working on what they’ll do against us and how to get around it.”
Looking ahead to the rest of their season, Tufts is excited to continue to improve with each practice and game.
“I’m looking forward to getting better as a group because we have a lot of room for improvement, which is definitely a good thing because we’re winning games now,” Ryan said. “But I can definitely see us getting better in the future by learning each others personnel and just talking more on the court.”