Women's Basketball | Tufts avoids Bear trap, finishes fall undefeated
Jumbos rally in second half to preserve perfect record
Published: Monday, December 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, December 10, 2012 15:12
The No. 10 women’s basketball team traveled to Bridgewater St. on Saturday for a matchup that had all of the makings of a trap game. Tufts was playing its fourth game in eight days — three of which were on the road — and its final game before winter break. The Bears also offered the Jumbos their toughest competition to date, entering the game with a 6−1 record and three victories over NESCAC opponents, including one over formerly ranked Williams.
With all that in mind, it would have been easy for the squad to make excuses if it picked up its first loss of the year, particularly after the Jumbos started off slow and trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half.
But the Jumbos showed a toughness that could help them go far this season, riding a 14−0 second−half run to a thrilling 66−65 come−from−behind win that completed the team’s first undefeated pre−winter break run since the 2007−2008 season.
Bridgewater St. came out of the gates with a full−court press that seemed to throw off the Jumbos’ tempo. While the Bears’ press failed to force a single turnover before the team backed off after about 10 minutes, it goaded the Jumbos into rushed, semi−contested shots that the team struggled to convert.
“Coach [Carla Berube] told us in the scouting report that they were hyper aggressive,” graduate forward Kate Barnosky said. “We just let them set the tone of the game instead of running our plays and getting the shots we wanted.”
On the offensive end, Bridgewater was patient as it looked to break down Tufts’ tight man−to−man defense. The Bears mainly used sharp passing and quick cuts from three or four guard sets, creating plenty of opportunities in the paint despite the distinct height disadvantage.
Their style even eventually forced Berube to adjust her lineup — starting sophomore center Hayley Kanner played just four minutes in the second half and 15 minutes overall.
“They’re very quick, and their offense is very quick and a lot of passes and reading each other,” Barnosky said. “They read each other really well, and always seemed to knew where their teammates were. It’s a different type of game than we’ve been playing.”
The Bears also seemingly couldn’t miss, hitting five of 10 shots from beyond the arc despite entering the game shooting just over 26 percent from outside.
Junior guard Jenna Williamson had the hot hand, finishing the half with 13 points and going 3−for−5 from deep. The result was a 35−point half for Bridgewater, more points than Tufts has allowed in two entire games this season.
“We knew who their shooters were coming into the game, and we weren’t staying close enough to them,” Barnosky said. “They were getting off shots too easily.”
But the Jumbos entered halftime trailing by just six even after falling behind early. Junior guard Liz Moynihan had Tufts’ final six points of the half, including a huge 3−pointer with two minutes to go when Bridgewater was threatening to pull away.
“We knew we were a much better team than we showed in the first half,” Moynihan said. “It was just about keeping composure and getting more stops on the defensive end. We couldn’t let their pressure and the way they played affect the way we played.”
Moynihan would arguably become even more important in the second half, when freshman point guard Kelsey Morehead, playing with three fouls, was called for a charge in the lane with 12 minutes to go, something the Jumbos hadn’t prepared for.
“It’s actually something we’ve never given a lot of thought or attention to in practice just because we always make the assumption that Kelsey will be in the game,” Moynihan said. “Everyone realized that our main ball−handler was off the court, so everyone as a team did a really good job of stepping up and filling the big gap that she leaves.”
The majority of Morehead’s duties ended up in the hands of Moynihan, who thrived. She and junior forward Ali Rocchi picked up quick buckets, and a Moynihan 3−pointer gave Tufts its first lead since the opening minutes.
Then, with four minutes to go, Foley drilled another wide−open corner three as the Bears struggled to hang with the Jumbos defensively and the Jumbos looked to be in complete control.
Moments later, when Moynihan took the ball from senior guard Elisha Homich and went end−to−end to put the team up eight, it seemed like the dagger. It was one of eight second−half steals for the Jumbos, who were able to take advantage of an aggressive Bridgewater side.
But the Bears refused to quit, scoring on three straight possessions to cut the lead to two with 35 seconds to play. After a timeout, Bridgewater elected to hold for a defensive stop and then tried to tie it. The Jumbos passed it around the perimeter until it ended up in the hands of Barnosky with the clock ticking down. Barnosky saw a lane and drove, going across the lane before throwing up a fairly uncontested layup for the clinching basket.