Women's Basketball | Jumbos on top in NESCAC after pair of weekend wins
Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2014 08:01
The No. 4 Tufts women’s basketball continued their undefeated season over the weekend, beating strong opponents Amherst and Trinity. In doing so, the Jumbos are the only NESCAC team with a perfect winning streak.
The Jumbos remedied a seven-year drought against the four-time defending league champions, the Lord Jeffs, in a game that featured the NESCAC’s only two undefeated teams. With the loss, Amherst moved to 15-1 overall and 3-1 in the conference, tying for second place with Bowdoin and Trinity.
Trinity’s sole loss also came at Tufts’ hands. The Jumbos routed the Bantams 68-48 a day after beating the Lord Jeffs 63-56.
Junior Hayley Kanner, who is the Tufts all-time leader in blocked shots, played a key role in both victories over the weekend, logging game-highs in both matchups. Kanner scored 18 points against Amherst on 7-of-13 shooting, and 16 points against Trinity on 7-of-10 shooting. Kanner credits her success to her teammates and their camaraderie this season.
“Our team is just so close on and off the court, we want to see each other play our best,” Kanner said. “I think individually, or as a team, we’ve been playing together and that’s where our success has been coming from, not from a record-breaking block or game-high points.”
Coming off their first win, Tufts avoided the post-victory hangover, appearing just as sharp for the Trinity game as they had against Amherst.
With a 17-6 score in the first 8 minutes of the game, the Jumbos quickly took control of the Bantams. From there, Tufts only continued to grow its lead, thanks in large part to a defense that held Trinity to 33.3 percent shooting from the field.
While the game against Trinity was largely a one-sided affair, with their team never coming within eight points of Tufts throughout the second half, the game versus Amherst was much more closely contested — even with the departure of Amherst’s leading scorer, junior Megan Robertson, early in the game due to injury.
“Megan Robertson is an incredible player,” Kanner said. “I think she’s leading the team in points, blocks, rebounds, leading the NESCAC in certain things as well, and I can only imagine having her off the court just changes the dynamic. That being said, I think we responded very well, shutting down the other players who were trying to step up.”
Down 21-9 with just over five minutes left in the first half, the Lord Jeffs outscored the Jumbos by 12 points to tie the score 25-25 at halftime. With three lead changes during the first fourteen minutes of the second half, the Lord Jeffs pulled ahead by one, 50-49, with 5:46 left in the game, before the Jumbos went on a 14-6 run to secure the win.
While acknowledging that the long-awaited victory against Amherst was an emotional one for the team, Kanner and senior tri-captain Liz Moynihan were quick to hold off any celebration until the game against Trinity. Both emphasized vigilance and consistency for the rest of the season.
“It’s great to be able to come out of weekends like we just had and say that we’re not even playing our best basketball,” Moynihan said. “It’s refreshing to be able to get through games like that and know that we still have room for improvement.”