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Women's Basketball | Tufts comes out of gate strong

Stifling defense propels Tufts to 2−0

Published: Monday, November 19, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 19, 2012 08:11

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William Butt / The Tufts Daily

Tufts opened its season 2-0 at the Skidmore Invitational, with sophomore Kelsey Morehead scoring 11 points.

Last year, the women’s basketball team dropped its first two contests before going on to have one of its best seasons in recent memory, winning 23 games and advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

But this season, Tufts wanted to hit the ground running, and it did just that over the weekend at the Skidmore Invitational in Saratoga Springs, cruising to a 50−30 victory over Skidmore on Friday before defeating Hamilton on Saturday, 46−38.

“It’s extremely important to get off to a good start this season,” sophomore guard Kelsey Morehead said. “Although we made strides for our program last year, winning only motivates us to push harder every practice and every game.”

In its opening game against Skidmore, Tufts capitalized on stifling defense to pull away from Skidmore. The Thoroughbreds never really stood a chance against the Jumbos’ experienced squad. Tufts came up with 10 steals and 23 points off turnovers in the contest to hold the hosts to just 30 points.

It was the same kind of defensive intensity that catapulted the Jumbos to such success last season, when they topped the NESCAC in points allowed at just over 46 points per game.

Head coach Carla Berube, now in her 11th season with the program, has always placed a heavy emphasis on the defensive side of the court, and in recent years her players have exemplified that message more than ever.

“Defense is always first with coach and with this program,” graduate forward Kate Barnosky said. “I think we showcased that well this weekend. We came outwith good intensity but still didn’t play anywhere close to our best. Our offense still has a long way to go, but it’s good we can always rely on our defense.”

Meanwhile, the Jumbos’ offense was sporadic at best on Friday, but they managed to put the game out of reach with a pair of 10−0 runs. With the score knotted at 10−10 in the early going, Tufts scored 10 unanswered points to take a commanding lead. Skidmore would finish the half on a 7−2 run to trim the Jumbos’ lead to 22−17.

Skidmore managed to hang in the game, but another 10−0 spurt by the Jumbos midway through the second frame gave Tufts a 16−point advantage and put the game away for good.

Sophomore guard Hannah Foley led a balanced scoring attack with 13 points, while Barnosky put in seven points and gathered seven rebounds. Nine different players scored for the Jumbos and 11 recorded at least one rebound.

“We definitely need to work more on executing our offensive sets, getting the right play at the right time and making good passes,” Barnosky said. “And improving on our foul shooting and getting to the line is always extremely important.”

On Saturday, Tufts finished off a perfect weekend with an eight−point victory over NESCAC rival Hamilton. Once again, the Jumbos’ defense shined, holding the Continentals to just 38 points on 23.1 percent shooting.

Tufts pushed its lead to as many as 13 after a three−point play from sophomore forward Hayley Kanner — who earned All−Tournament team honors — made it 39−26 with 9:26 remaining. But Hamilton was able to keep it close, pulling to within seven with under a minute to go before eventually falling away. Junior Ali Rocchi also helped the Jumbos’ cause on the glass, bringing down a game−high 12 boards.

Though they came away with two victories, the Jumbos still see room for improvement on offense.

“I think as time goes on we will become more comfortable reading one another, specifically on the offensive end,” Morehead said. “With more practices and more time, our offense will come.”

The Jumbos play again Tuesday when they travel to Colby−Sawyer. Their first NESCAC game that will count towards their conference record is not until Jan. 4 against Williams at home.

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