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Jumbos set to finish off regular season against Hamilton

Tufts aims for impressive Senior Night performance

Published: Friday, February 8, 2013

Updated: Friday, February 8, 2013 11:02

bball

Zhuangchen Zhou / The Tufts Daily

seniors Bre Dufault (pictured) and Maggie Riddle will be honored on Sunday as part of the Jumbos’ senior Night.

For the women’s basketball team, the end of the beginning has arrived. Coming off a hard−fought battle against then−No. 4 Amherst that resulted in the Jumbos’ first loss of the season, coach Carla Berube and company will take on conference newbie Hamilton this weekend in their final game of the regular season. Originally slated for Friday night, the Jumbos’ finale will take place on Sunday afternoon after the weather−related postponement.

Given Tufts’ current 22−1 record and No. 6 national ranking, Sunday’s matchup should serve mainly as a tune−up game before the NESCAC tournament beginning next weekend. Including the loss against the Lord Jeffs, the Jumbos have outscored their opponents by 417 points in 23 games this season, compared to a 115−point margin for the Continentals of Hamilton in 21 games.

The visitors are led by seniors Madie Harlem and Eliza Howe, who are averaging 15.0 and 12.8 points per game, respectively, for the Continentals. Despite the school’s lowly 2−6 record in the NESCAC this season, Hamilton’s strength, like Tufts’, is defense. They rank fourth in the conference on the strength of a unit that has allowed just 50.0 points per game to opponents this year.

Regardless of the challenger, the Jumbos are confident they can end the regular season on a high note.

“Before NESCAC game play began, the team set some goals, but we haven’t been able to even accomplish those yet,” sophomore center Hayley Kanner said. “We want to do well in both the NESCAC and NCAA tournaments, and keeping those goals in mind has really pushed us to keep going.”

Tufts has already exceeded most people’s expectations, as this year’s squad has already matched the school’s third−highest season win total with Sunday’s game against Hamilton and both tournaments still left to play. The Jumbos are just four wins away from the school record of 26 victories, which was set in 2007−2008 under Berube’s leadership.

Just like every season, the Jumbos made the team as a whole a priority over any individual achievements. This approach paid off with another mesmerizing regular season.

“I don’t really have any personal goals, just to make the team better in any way I can,” Kanner said. “When we win games, that helps my satisfaction and helps me focus on the path to achieving our team goals.”

Looking ahead, the Jumbos have everything to gain in these final weeks of competition, which will feature high−profile matchups against both conference and non−conference opponents. While fans will consider this season a success regardless of tournament outcome, both Berube and the Tufts players unquestionably have their eyes set on a deeper run.

“Even this late in the season, Coach [Berube] will always push us and never settle on the games we’ve won,” Kanner said. “She’s going to look to make every player better every single day, and whether it’s on−the−court drills or team bonding, we’re going to remain motivated and be ready for any opponent coming our way.”

After the Centennials, those opponents will quickly turn into some of the best teams in the land, but for this weekend, the Jumbos will be solely focused on finishing out the regular season on a high note and sending off their two seniors, co−captain Bre Dufault and Maggie Riddle, in style.

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