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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Women's Basketball | Weekend win secures best start in program history

It took just nine games over three weeks for the 2007-08 women's basketball team to write itself into the Tufts record books.

With a 61-40 victory over Wellesley Saturday, the Jumbos bumped their record to 9-0 and set the program mark for the best start in the team's 36-year history. And the country has taken notice; for the first time in over a decade, Tufts has broken into the USA Today Top 25, according to the most recent poll released on Dec. 4.

While the final score in win number nine was an impressive one, it wasn't all smooth sailing to the 21-point margin. The start of the game looked eerily similar to Thursday night's game at Simmons, in which the team dug itself a 7-0 hole in less than two minutes and had to play catch up for part of the first half. Against Wellesley, Tufts did not take the lead for good until junior Stacy Filocco hit a three at the 8:15 mark in the first to make it 16-13, Tufts.

The Jumbos' 33-27 halftime lead was nearly too small to keep Wellesley at bay. Less than a minute into the second half, a steal from junior Jessica Duff and a three-pointer from sophomore Laura Barrett put the Blue within three, 33-30. But that was the closest they would come as a 10-2 run, capped off by a three-pointer from freshman point guard Colleen Hart, her 19th of the season and three of her 15 points on the night.

"We have a tendency to play at the level of our opponents," junior center Katie Puishys said. "And the last two schools we've played, though they were good and came out hard, we had the expectation coming into the games that we didn't really need to play Jumbo basketball."

After losing to Tufts 90-45 last season, Wellesley shook things up this time around by employing a 2-3 zone. Apart from a couple possessions of man-to-man defense, Tufts had to rely on its zone offenses for most of the game, which yielded a slower-paced game than the squad is used to playing.

"[The close score] was a credit to Wellesley's defense - they slowed down the game," coach Carla Berube said. "We used ... 25 seconds of every shot clock and were unable to score as much as we'd like.

"We didn't run our offenses the way we needed to," she continued. "We didn't penetrate the gaps like we needed to and we turned the ball over too much in our break."

When the Jumbos finally started driving to the hoop and hitting outside shots, they were able to pull away. Once again, Hart led the way with 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc. She has shot nearly 54 percent from long distance this season.

Tufts had to shake up its starting lineup this week when junior starting guard Kim Moynihan was sidelined with an orbital fracture. In both Thursday's and Saturday's games, sophomore Katie Wholey started in Moynihan's place, playing 21 minutes on Thursday and 10 on Saturday.

"Kim has emerged as one of our emotional leaders. That was lacking a little bit [the last two games]," Berube said. "She also does a nice job getting into the paint off the dribble. We missed her, but we definitely have people who can step up in place of her."

Losing Moynihan has spread the minutes down the Jumbo depth chart, giving an especially increased role to sophomore forward Julia Baily. The Farmington, Conn. native has sparked the lineup over the past two games, contributing 21 total points and 15 rebounds.

"We've had a lot of huge performances from the bench in the last few games," junior center Katie Tausanovitch said. "Especially, Julia Baily has had some huge games ... [The injury to Moynihan] has put more pressure on our bench, but they have really stepped up. We couldn't have won without them."

The 34 bench points the Jumbos got in Thursday's win, and the emergence of some new offensive threats are encouraging signs as the team approaches the meat of its schedule after returning to campus on Jan. 1.

"One of the biggest things about this team is that we tend to have a different high scorer every night," Tausanovitch said. "We have so many different people who can step up every night. We're a hard team to defend in that sense because we have so many offensive threats."