With conference wins on the road against Bates, No. 2 Bowdoin and Colby, the No. 1 women’s basketball remains undefeated with only four games left in the regular season. Their 20–0 record (6–0 in NESCAC games) puts the Jumbos atop the NESCAC and No. 1 in the NCAA Div. III national rankings.
Tufts dominated Saturday’s matchup against Colby — which brought Colby’s record to 7–12 and 2–5 in the NESCAC — and maintained a lead the entire game, winning 58–36. The largest lead of the game came off of a 3-point jump shot from senior guard Cailin Harrington with 4:39 remaining, putting the Jumbos up 56–28. Junior guard/forward Emily Briggs and sophomore guard Molly Ryan led the game with 14 points each.
Going into this game, Tufts was looking to maintain and build upon its energy from its big win the night before over Bowdoin.
“It’s hard sometimes to sustain that kind of energy after a big game like that, so we just talked about being ready for this next game and try[ing] not to have a dip of energy after last night,” senior guard Sadie Otley said.
On Friday, the Jumbos traveled to Brunswick, Maine, in a much-anticipated matchup of the only two undefeated teams in the NESCAC and the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the country. Tufts ultimately beat Bowdoin 97–88, securing the top spot in the NESCAC.
In the week leading up to this game, the Jumbos prepared for the Polar Bears’ strong offense.
“They are a really high-powered offensive team, so just honing in on our defense and making sure that we’re ready for the things they do,” coach Jill Pace said. “They are a great shooting team so making sure we are out on the perimeter and understanding what they do really well on offense.”
Senior forward and co-captain Maddie Hasson led the game with 29 points for Bowdoin on 11 for 17 shooting, her second-most points in a single game this season, while also adding eight rebounds.
Defensively, Tufts focused on getting out on the perimeter in an attempt to limit Bowdoin’s 3-point opportunities. The Polar Bears ultimately shot nine for 20 on 3-pointers compared to the Jumbos’ 12 for 24.
“Bowdoin obviously is a really, really great team and we knew we were going to have to play really well for it to be a good game with them,” Otley said. “They run a lot of sets, so we went over that all week in practice and talked about getting out on shooters because they are a really great 3-point shooting team.”
Junior guard Moira Train added 17 points for the Polar Bears, while senior guard and co-captain Samantha Roy and junior forward Dorian Cohen both scored 12. However, these double-digit points were not enough to catch the Jumbos at the end of the game.
Tufts shot 100% from the free-throw line, including six clutch shots in the final minute to secure the lead. Briggs led the team with 23 points, shooting 3 for 3 on 3-pointers and 10 for 14 on field goals. Harrington added 20 points, six rebounds and three assists. Ryan and senior guard/forward and co-captain Erica DeCandido both added 19 points, while DeCandido also dished out seven assists and grabbed six rebounds.
“People just showed up ready to play — I think both teams shot really, really well and that’s why it was such a high-scoring game,” Otley said. “We ran and executed our sets well and we had a really good shooting night.”
Tufts also secured a commanding, 65-49 win over Bates on Jan. 25.
Tufts got on the board first and remained ahead for the entirety of the 40 minutes of play. DeCandido put up 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists for the Jumbos. Sophomore guard Mia Roy netted a game-high 22 points for the Bobcats; however, Roy’s efforts could not match the Jumbos.
Tufts’ energy as well as its capitalization on free throw opportunities (15 for 18) again contributed to the win.
“We had a strong start against Bates just from an energy standpoint, and then we sustained that pretty much the entire game,” Pace said. “They went on a little bit of a run at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half. It was a great crowd and a lot of good energy … I think we did a really nice job defensively throughout the game and followed our game plan really well.”
With only four games remaining in their regular season, the Jumbos focus on their sets and defense, in addition to bringing energy and having fun together.
“We’ve been having a lot of fun in practice every day, which I think is super important,” Pace said. “The team is maintaining [its] energy, which is sometimes hard to do with such a long season that we have, so it’s been really nice to see them come to practice every day still ready to go, learn and get better.”
Tufts will look to maintain its undefeated record and will host its last stretch of games beginning with Trinity on Friday at 7 p.m. and Conn. College on Saturday at 3 p.m.