Women's Basketball | Jumbos win both games over break, stay undefeated
Published: Monday, November 26, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 26, 2012 07:11
Behind a 30-3 first-half run, the No. 17 women’s basketball team put up its most impressive performance of the season to date yesterday, dominating a strong Brandeis side 70-32 in the Jumbos’ home opener. Tufts also beat Colby-Sawyer College on Nov. 20, just as Tufts students were heading home for Thanksgiving.
The team is now undefeated, a result the polar opposite of last year’s start to the season, when the Jumbos stumbled out of the gate and lost their first two games. This year’s Jumbos have now won four straight and, after some up-and-down performances early, are clicking on all cylinders.
“In the first few games, we had spurts where we played really well — spurts of good offense and spurts of good defense,” sophomore guard Hannah Foley said after yesterday’s game. “But today, we put it together for almost the full 40 minutes, which was definitely needed. It was good to get it all together, especially against a big in-region rival like Brandeis.”
After a slow start from both sides, Tufts used the run, which spanned 14 and a half minutes, to all but end the game in the first half. This allowed coach Carla Berube to cycle through her bench, keeping everyone rested as the team moves deeper into its non-conference slate.
As it always has been, defense was the spark that got the Jumbos rolling. With a pressing man-to-man set, the Jumbos were able to keep the ball on the perimeter and deny the entry pass. The height of sophomore center Hayley Kanner and senior co-captain forward Bre Dufault in the lane made it even more difficult for the visitors to find an easy shot.
“Their posts were really strong, and we knew that coming into it,” said Dufault, who finished the game with six steals. “We had scouted them, and we knew that they liked to work the high-low. So we knew we had to have really good ball pressure, and have our posts moving around constantly. We communicated well, and we were switching well, and when our posts look to steal, good things can happen.”
As Brandeis began to get flustered offensively, the Judges played right into the Jumbos’ hands. Tufts forced 16 turnovers during the first-half run, turning them into 17 points.
“We always play a lot better on offense when we are getting turnovers and getting stops,” Foley said. “We just flow right into our offense in transition.”
In the second half, things only got more out of hand. The exhausted Judges couldn’t keep up with the ball movement of the Jumbos, who were able to convert a series of open 3-point shots and a few easy drives into the lane, putting together a 19-3 run. Graduate co-captain forward Kate Barnosky was the major producer after the break, going 3-for-3 from beyond the arc before taking a seat with the rest of the starters with seven minutes still to play.
Barnosky and Dufault both finished with a team-high 15 points. For Dufault, the total was the second-highest of her collegiate career, trailing only a 16-point effort on Jan. 2 against Middlebury .
“It felt like a lot of defense fueling offense, and then different people driving to the middle and just dumping the ball to me,” Dufault said.
Foley also contributed another strong game, complementing her nine-point day with five assists and three steals. She continues to lead the Jumbos with 11.8 points per game, and seems to have hit her stride in her second season in brown and blue.
“Last year, I was definitely more of a shooter, and this year, teams are expecting that,” Foley said. “They’re playing me and making me drive, so I’m definitely looking to drive a lot more. And just spotting up in transition for my shot and looking to help my teammates out and get them shots, too.”
It was a welcome return home for a Tufts squad that has been so dominant there in recent years. The Jumbos are now 22-3 in Cousens Gym over the past three seasons, with two of those losses determined by fewer than three points.
“We have a different sense of pride trying to protect our court,” Dufault said. “We shoot all the time here, and we just like to show our fans what we can do.”
The win marked the fourth straight for the Jumbos in their series with the Judges, which dates back annually on Thanksgiving weekend to the 2007-08 season. It was especially impressive because the win came against a team that had won one its first two games convincingly before falling to Babson College, which received votes in the D3Hoops.com pool, by a single point. But against Tufts, Brandeis simply couldn’t find its rhythm.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Jumbos, who will travel to Salem State on Tuesday to take on the 3-1 Vikings. They return home again on Saturday to face Regis, completing a stretch of three games in seven days. The team is glad it had two days off for the holiday before this stretch, but also feels confident after the big win.