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Women’s Basketball | Tufts continues hot start with 83-44 victory over Salem State

Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 09:12

The women’s basketball team continued its season on Tuesday night, pulling off its most lopsided victory of the young season, besting Salem State University 83-44 for its sixth straight win to start the year.

Before four minutes of the game were gone, the Jumbos had already amassed an 8-0 advantage. By halftime, that lead had grown to 28. Tufts was relentless on both sides of the floor, limiting the Vikings to just 14 points on 6-for-18 shooting from the field in the first half. Meanwhile, a balanced attack for the Jumbos led by freshman forward Michela North produced 42 first-half points on 17-for-40 shooting. 

“This is one of the team’s best offensive games,” North said. “But we can always improve on defense and executing our plays on offense.”

Tuesday’s game once again proved how deep the Jumbos’ roster is this year. In its first six wins, the team has received contributions from the veterans all the way down to the last player on the bench, including consistent performances from North. She added to her stellar rookie resume with her first collegiate double-double against Salem State, tallying 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds. 

“Our balanced attack is great because we don’t have to rely on one player to score 30 points per game,” sophomore guard Michelle Wu said. “Everyone on the team has the ability to contribute which makes it harder to defend us.”

Junior guard Hannah Foley tacked on 10 points and six rebounds of her own, while sophomore guard Emma Roberson added nine points and three assists. Junior forward Hayley Kanner and senior guard Liz Moynihan also chipped in with seven points apiece. 

“Our team has great chemistry on and off the court which means any combination of players can have great success on the court,” North said. “The upperclassmen have been very welcoming to the incoming players such as myself and are always giving us great advice. I also believe we have a deep bench which means scoring will usually come from across the board. It’s great for everyone to be able to get playing time as well.”

The Jumbos eliminated any doubt that the game was still up for grabs with an efficient 6-0 run to start the second half. The lead ballooned to 49 points on a jumper by sophomore guard Nicole Brooks with 7:56 remaining. 

Statistically, Tufts was dominating throughout the game, but perhaps the statistic that most pleased coach Carla Berube was the 30 turnovers that the Jumbos forced. Berube’s emphasis on defense throughout her Tufts career has been no secret, and while Tuesday’s game was the Jumbos’ best offensive output thus far, it was also one of their most dominant defensive showings.

“I couldn’t be happier with our team thus far,” North said. “Starting out strong with a 6-0 record is great, and we also have so much room for improvement, which means we can strive to be a really great team.”

The Jumbos have won their first six contests by an average of 22.5 points per game. But when the margin of victory is so large, the possibility of complacency emerges. Tufts will not play a NESCAC opponent until Jan. 12 when it tips off against Middlebury, and in the interim the Jumbos will face mostly lower-ranked opponents. Maintaining this level of intensity and passion, therefore, may prove difficult.

“When your team is up by 20-30 points it can be difficult to maintain energy, but we have to always maintain focus and use these games to prepare ourselves for the NESCAC games,” North said. “Also, as a freshman, I still just don’t know what to expect with any team, so I go into every game with no preconceptions.”

The Jumbos will look to win their seventh-straight game tonight when they take on Fitchburg State in the third game of a four-game homestand. The 3-2 Falcons bested Middlebury earlier this year and may prove a difficult challenge for the Jumbos. Tufts will finish its streak of play at Cousens Gymnasium on Saturday against Connecticut College before a recess until Dec. 30. 

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