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Women's Basketball | No. 1−seeded Jumbos prepare for NESCAC tournament

Lucky draw gives Tufts homecourt advantage throughout

Published: Friday, February 15, 2013

Updated: Friday, February 15, 2013 00:02

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Sofia Adams / The Tufts Daily

The regular season might be over, but the fun is just beginning for the women’s basketball team.

After No. 7 Tufts capped its regular season with an impressive win over Hamilton, 57−37, on Wednesday night, the NESCAC playoffs are finally here, and the Jumbos are ready for the games that they have been preparing for all season.

Before that win over Hamilton, the Jumbos had more than a week and a half off, and the senior−night win gave them the chance to get back in rhythm before the playoffs.

“It had been a while since we last played a game, so although we’re a little rusty it [felt] good to get back on the court,” sophomore center Hayley Kanner said. “It may not have been the biggest win going into the postseason, but it’s a wake−up call and we’re ready.”

Coach Carla Berube and her squad will now turn their attention to the tournament, where Tufts made it all the way to the championship game last season but lost to Amherst in a lopsided affair.

Amherst hosted that title game last year, but things will be different this year, with the Jumbos receiving homecourt advantage and the No. 1 seed, based on pure luck of the draw. Amherst, Williams and Tufts all went 9−1 in the conference this season and 1−1 in head−to−head competition, and seven tiebreakers could not differentiate any of the NESCAC’s traditional basketball powers. While the conference awarded homecourt advantage and the top spot to the Jumbos late Wednesday evening by picking out of a hat, Berube’s players are not ready to celebrate just yet.

“I think [the No. 1 seed] is really important for us,” freshman guard Emma Roberson said. “This is what we’ve all been looking forward to. But we also need to remember that the postseason is like a new season, and everyone is going to play harder and stronger.”

The key for the Jumbos will be to maintain the defense that has carried them deep into the playoffs over the last few years. Tufts is allowing a league−leading 42.8 points per game and has held opponents to a paltry 32.2 percent shooting percentage from the floor.

On the offensive end, the Jumbos will need sophomore Hannah Foley to keep her hot hand, as she leads the Jumbos with 11.8 points per game, and will need contributions to come from a number of different players. Six Jumbos are averaging more than six points a game, and that balanced scoring will be key against a shaky Bowdoin squad.

One factor working against the Jumbos is the potential loss of junior Caitlin McClure and sophomore point guard Kelsey Morehead, both of whom started for the Jumbos throughout the year. The duo combined for 10.1 points and 2.5 steals per contest this season, and their absence in the Hamilton game was noticeable. Although Morehead has a good chance to return from her concussion for the quarterfinals, McClure, who is nursing a sprained ankle, may not be ready to return in time for any of the tournament games, according to Tufts players.

If the Jumbos can get past Bowdoin, they will take on the winner of Middlebury and Bates in next weekend’s semifinal, which would be hosted here in Medford. If the Jumbos get that far, they will likely be playing for a chance to take on Amherst in a championship rematch.

“We’d love to get revenge on them,” Roberson said. “We still have to remember to take it one game at a time, but there’s no question we want to go all the way.”

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