MEDFORD, Mass. – The fourth-ranked Tufts University Women’s basketball team is heading back to the Sweet 16 for the sixth consecutive year.
The Jumbos defeated Husson University, 64-44, in a second-round NCAA Division III tournament game at Cousens Gymnasium on Saturday.
The Jumbos led by four after the first quarter, as both teams came out on fire offensively. Tufts held the underdog Eagles to eight points in the second quarter, yet the margin at halftime was just ten.
But the second half was a different story.
Tufts went on a 10-0 run to start the third quarter, and outscored Husson 21-4 overall in the third quarter, to put the game out of reach. The Jumbos also dominated on the glass, with a 20-4 edge in offensive rebounds.
“We knew this was going to be a great battle,” said head coach Carla Berube. “I thought the way we came out in the third quarter was great. It’s not been our best quarter in recent weekends.”
Berube praised her team for their work in the paint, saying she felt they had an advantage inside.
Michela North had a double-double for the Jumbos: 10 points and 13 rebounds. Jac Knapp led the team in scoring with 15.
The Eagles, fresh off their first-ever NCAA victory, were hoping to pull off a big upset on the Jumbos’ home court.
“We wanted to come out and compete, and not be afraid,” said Husson head coach Kissy Walker. “The only thing I’m disappointed in is that I’ll be losing these three seniors.”
One of those seniors is Darla Morales. Playing in her last game for Husson, she led the Eagles with 15 points, all of them coming from 3-point range. Kenzie Worcester added 12 points.
Tufts will take on Scranton in the next round on Friday. A site for the third round game and time has yet to be announced, as of Saturday evening.
“We had a battle against them last year, so I’m really excited to play them again,” said North.
It has been an extremely exciting 10 months of Division III College sports.
Tufts University highlighted the school year by winning a trio of championships in men’s soccer, men’s lacrosse and softball. The Jumbos’ softball team accomplished a feat that had never occurred in Division III, winning three consecutive World Series crowns (2013, 2014 and 2015). The men’s lacrosse team captured its second straight title (and third since 2010) by defeating Lynchburg, 19-11, while the men’s soccer team earned its first national championship with a 4-2 win over Wheaton College (Ill.).
Babson College also appeared in the headlines following its amazing come-from-behind win against Trinity College in the Sectional Finals. Trailing the Bantams, 41-33, entering the second stanza, the Beavers rallied by outscoring their opponent, 33-25, which extended the content into overtime. In the extra session, Joey Flannery converted three free throws, John Wickey sank a jumper, Matthew Droney scored a three-pointer and Sam Bohmiller hit a pair of free throws to clinch the victory and send Babson to its first-ever semifinal.
For the second year in a row, the Tufts women’s basketball team advanced to the semifinals. Carla Berube was presented the Pat Summitt Trophy as the 2015 United States Marine Corps/ Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) NCAA Division III Coach of the Year in April. Under Berube, the Jumbos won back-to-back New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) titles (2014 and 2015).
MIT made its initial appearance in the NCAA Tournament and won its first-ever postseason contest against Husson College. Trailing the Eagles, 20-17, Tucker Cheyne booted a 38-yard field goal at the end of regulation that evened the score at 20-20. In the extra session, the Engineers secured the victory when Peter Williams hooked up with Seve Esparrago for a 13-yard touchdown strike.
The Amherst College men’s ice hockey team came within one game of the national championship. The Jeffs earned a semifinal matchup with Wisconsin-Stevens Point following a dramatic 4-3 victory over Norwich University. Mike Rowbotham extended the Jeffs’ season with an overtime goal – his ninth of the season (at the time) – that helped Amherst edge the Cadets. Trinity would up winning the national title, defeating Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 5-2.
A 1-0 victory against Johns Hopkins University sent the Williams College women’s soccer team to the finals. The Ephs, however, fell to Lynchburg in penalty kicks following a scoreless tie after two full halves of soccer, along with a pair of overtime periods. Audrey Thomas scored the lone goal in Williams’ win over Johns Hopkins in the semifinal. Prior to their semifinal and final appearances, the Ephs claimed tournament wins over Lasell College, Ithaca College, Roger Williams University and TCNJ.
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.
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.
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 Ferrisa 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.”
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.”
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