Mass College Hoops Recap: Tufts 61, Misericordia University 57

By Matt Noonan 

MEDFORD, MA – Clinging to a two-point advantage with 38 seconds remaining, Tufts University senior Tiffany Kornegay, (15 points, 10 rebounds) recorded two rebounds and two free throws in a span of nine seconds, which lifted the Jumbos past Misericordia University in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament, 61-57.

“Misericordia really got after it, [and] I thought they played a great game, and made a lot of plays,” exclaimed Tufts head coach Carla Berube. “Down the stretch, we made the plays that we needed to, got some big rebounds, had some big shots contested and got rebounds and then got on the break.”

Both teams exchanged the lead nine times before freshman Hannah Foley and junior Collier Clegg, (11 points) helped Tufts relinquish it with back-to-back treys, which provided the Jumbos with a 32-26 lead at the break.

Tufts then constructed a 46-36 cushion to start the second half, which was erased and evened at 50-50 with five minutes remaining.

Senior Christine Marks, (22 points, 12 rebounds) sparked the Cougars offense with a few rebounds and free throws before senior Jesse Robinson, (16 points) provided Misericordia with their first lead in nearly 30 minutes when she recorded a pair at the stripe.

“Marks is just an excellent basketball player,” said Berube. “They’ve got a great supporting cast around her, and we had trouble defending them.”

Tufts eventually responded with a jump shot by Kornegay, which ballooned the Jumbos lead to 58-51 with 2:58 remaining.

“That shot got us into a rhythm, and I think we felt confident,” said Kornegay. “That’s what we needed to finish out the game.”

The Cougars then mustered six points during the final minute, but also watched Marks miss two consecutive layups, which halted Misericordia’s comeback to force overtime, and allowed the Jumbos to walk off their home court with a dramatic March Madness victory.

“Tiffany really pushed it out there in the end, and made plays when we need [them],” said Berube. “[Overall] it was exciting [because] it’s been a while I feel like that we’ve pulled out a game at the end when it’s really, really close, and Misericordia really tested us, so it doesn’t matter how you win now, it’s just about advancing and luckily we did that.”

Tufts will attempt to continue their quest toward a national championship when they face-off against Johns Hopkins University on Saturday, Mar. 3 at 7:00pm. The winner will earn a trip to sectional-finals, which is scheduled for Mar. 9.

Massachusetts College Basketball: Women’s Top-5 Poll Updated

By NoontimeSports.com 

1.) Amherst College (Last Week/No. 1) – The women sporting purple and white survived two back-to-back dramatic games this past weekend against Bowdoin College and Colby College, which helped the Lord Jeffs preserve their perfect overall and conference record. Yet, their current seven-game road trip continues, and doesn’t get easier, as they’ll head to Williamstown on Wednesday for a critical clash against Williams College.

2.) Babson College (Last Week/No. 2) – A high school basketball source told Noontime Sports this past weekend that freshman Erin Young can shoot, and this past Saturday, she exhibited why teams might want to cover her for the remainder of the season, as she sank eight three pointers, and registered 28 points in Babson’s 55th consecutive conference victory against Coast Guard. Babson will return home this week to face WPI and Mount Holyoke, which are two critical games.

3.) Williams College (Last Week/No. 3) – The Ephs have won two back-to-back games, but continue to be hampered by the loss of junior Claire Baecher. Williams’ Athletic Department confirmed that she could be sidelined for a while. However, they’re 9-1 at home, and host Amherst College on Wednesday, which is a critical game for both squads.

4.) Tufts University (Last Week/No. 4) – Despite a recent loss earlier this month, the Jumbos have rebounded quite well, and have won four of their last five contests. They’re currently a half a game behind Amherst in the conference standings, which means Carla Berube’s squad can’t take their foot off the pedal for the remainder of the season.

5.) Smith College (Last Week/No. 5) – The Pioneers earned an impressive win on Saturday, as they defeat MIT on the road. They held the Engineers to less than 20 points in the first half, and certainly will want to keep their winning ways going for the remainder of their season. However, a critical clash still remains in Babson Park with the Beavers, who defeated Smith College earlier this season in North Hampton.

Catching Up With Tufts University Basketball

Photo Credit: GoTuftsJumbos.com

By Matt Noonan 

On Thursday, Noontime Sports had the chance to catch up with both Tufts University’s men’s and women’s basketball coaches.

Here are some highlights from both interviews.

Men’s Basketball head coach Bob Sheldon:

On defeating Williams College: “It was a big win for us. I felt that with our team, we’ve been up and down, and we needed to know how good we were as a team. I think myself and the staff felt we were good, but they needed to know. We needed a signature win, and I felt that when we went in there, the whole team was focused, the energy was there, it was the first [NESCAC conference] game, it was a nice crowd for them, and to go in there and play them, and beat them there is something that I don’t know how far it’s going to pay forward. It’s just indescribable, [and my team] was confident going into their next [game], and even though it wasn’t our best shot against Middlebury,  [but] we were down six with four minutes left, [but], I think it’s going to take us a long way.”

On playing non-conference opponents: “We’ll play anybody. Our belief as a staff is that if you deserve to get a bid at the end and have a good record, you need to play the best teams. So, we play anybody that’ll play us, and once we get into our league, it’s Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and it’s tough. There are no nights off, and so we want to play MIT and Babson, [as well as] Salem and Brandies and those teams that are good, so that we’re ready when we get to the league because if we win the league, it’s an automatic bid, but if you win those games, it gets you ready to win the league to get the automatic bid. And we’re very disappointed in those two losses, [against MIT and Plymouth State], but part of that is that we’re pretty young. We play C.J. Moss, a freshman a lot; we play Ben Ferris a freshman a lot. Both our point guards are sophomores, and we were missing our starting point guard from last year, [but Oliver Cohen] is back now. But, those games are disappointing because we know we can win them, but part of it was we’re young, and we got into those situations and we really weren’t ready mentally. [When] we go to Williams and play a game like that or even the Babson game or [Plymouth] was a close game right down the end, and so was Salem State, so those games are just helping us, and just like I said, we needed that one big win to kind of let them know how good they are, and maybe get a little bit of a swagger going, and now we’re going to test that this weekend.”

On earning an eventual home victory: “We need to get a win at home, and that’s been the main focus after Middlebury. If we can [get a win on] Friday, and use that to feed off on Saturday, and then go into Tuesday, I think we’ll be alright, but Friday night has been our focus, and we really are focused on beating Bowdoin College.”

Women’s Basketball head coach Carla Berube:

On the 11-game winning streak: “I think a lot has to do with just developing some good chemistry on the court. The first two games were two tough opponents to start off, and we have some young players that are getting some time, so I think it’s just taken a little while to sort of find the groove on the floor, and finding the balance of our returners, our experienced players with those freshmen. [Also], I think just playing fundamentally sound basketball, and when you do that you’re in every game, and we’ve been lucky enough to [succeed quite well over the past few weeks].”

On defeating Williams College: “I think we just played very good half-court defense. I think we did a good job of contesting all of their shots, and also doing a good job on the defensive boards. I think shooting percentage goes up when you’re taking two foot shots rather than contested shots from the outside, so we did a good job of keeping them off the boards, and contesting their shots. Williams missed some easy looks, too, so all those three things together I think led to that percentage, but for the most part, I think we were there on every shot, making it hard for them.”

On gaining momentum from beating Williams: “I hope so. I think we have a bit of a chip on our shoulder, and I think we went into that game with that mentality and we have the mentality that we’re to do everything possible to outwork our opponent, so I think that helps us to see what we’re capable of doing, night in and night out, but it’s only going to happen if you bring that same intensity, that same aggressiveness, that same chip that we had, so I hope that it gives us some confidence, but also we recognize how it happened, and why it happened.”

For more Division III hoops coverage in Massachusetts — follow @NoontimeSports on Twitter.