Women’s Basketball | Jumbos sink Anchorwomen, keep perfect season
Published: Friday, February 7, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 7, 2014 08:02
Midway through a stretch of five consecutive away games, the women’s basketball team soared to a 63-42 win over Rhode Island College on Tuesday evening. The win pushes Tufts to 19-0 while Rhode Island falls to 14-6 on the season.
The victory comes as a welcome relief after two closely contested games this past weekend, in which the team played in arguably the most brutal back-to-back road games thus far. Despite securing crucial wins against NESCAC opponents Connecticut College and Wesleyan, having to play in two unfriendly environments within the span of 24 hours was a challenge for the team.
“It’s definitely easy to play in your home gym, with your home crowd, in the place you practice every single day, and it’s tough going on the road in the NESCAC,” head coach Carla Berube said. “But it’s a good test and we grinded out two big wins in Connecticut this past weekend.”
After coming off of its two intense weekend games, the team did not let its guard down when looking to face an easier, non-conference opponent. Instead, the Jumbos asserted their dominance from tip-off and did not take their foot off of the gas pedal until the final buzzer sounded.
The Jumbos’ success this season can largely be attributed to strong starts. The team often builds double-digit leads by the half and relegates opponents to playing catch-up. This trend was on display once again as Tufts’ defense held Rhode Island to just two free throws in the first seven minutes of play, thwarting any efforts by Rhode Island to get its offense going. The Jumbos forced 14 first-half turnovers and held the hosts to just 5-of-18 (28 percent) shooting from the floor, building up a 31-17 lead by halftime.
Juniors Hannah Foley and Hayley Kanner, key cogs in the offense and the only two Jumbos averaging at least 10 points-per-game this season, had standout performances against the Anchorwomen. Foley scored 11 points in the first half, with 14 total on the night, and added a team-high seven rebounds along with a game-high four steals. Kanner, recently named NESCAC Player of the Week, notched 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks for the team.
“Hayley is a talented low-post player, who’s improved a lot in her three years at Tufts and made a big jump in performance since last year,” Berube said. “Hannah Foley just made Academic All-American, an engineering major with a 4.0 GPA which is something I’m very proud of, and of course you have to be a talented basketball player to receive that recognition.”
An often-overlooked member of the Jumbos, junior point guard Kelsey Morehead plays a crucial role in facilitating the offense and working the ball to both of the Jumbos’ leading scorers. Morehead, who is currently leading the team in assists with 2.9 per game (seventh in the NESCAC), had a game-high seven dishes against Rhode Island, a testament to the team’s swift ball movement. The Jumbos dished out 17 assists as a team against the Anchorwomen, who ended the night with just six.
“[Morehead] is never going to get the recognition and attention because she doesn’t put up huge stats, but she puts the team on her back game in and game out, and leads us in so many different ways,” Berube said. “It’s nice to see the team get the recognition that we’re getting, but we wouldn’t be 19-0 without her.”
In a game that saw playing time for all fifteen members of the Tufts squad, Rhode Island appeared utterly over-matched from the outset. Tufts held Rhode Island to just 29.5 percent shooting on the night and kept them scoreless from beyond the arc, while Tufts shot 43.4 percent from the field and went 6-of-13 from 3-point range.
Despite holding teams to a league low of 50.2 points per game, the Jumbos lost the battle on the boards against the Anchorwomen, with the hosts out-rebounding the visiting Jumbos 39-29, which included 15 offensive rebounds for the Anchorwmen.
“We still need to work on post defense, to make sure we have great ball pressure and get deflections. That and defensive rebounding, because we’ve been giving up too many offensive rebounds,” Berube said. “There are definitely parts of our defense that still need to grow, in every practice and every game.”
With four of their next five games against conference opponents, including tough away games against Hamilton and Williams, the team will have to continue to keep up the defensive intensity.
“It’s a huge test going out to Hamilton and Williams,” Berube said. “It’s a test to see if we’re ready to step onto court and play the brand of Tufts basketball that we want to play.”