The only accolade that eluded the women's basketball team at the end of last season was a title.
It took only one weekend of play for this year's squad to earn just that.
Tufts took home top honors from the 29th-annual Eastern Tip-Off Tournament this weekend, held at Eastern Connecticut State University. After disposing of Mount Ida in a 95-35 demolition in Saturday afternoon's opener, the Jumbos returned to the court Sunday and finished strong by defeating the host Warriors, 68-55, to win the invitational and open the new season 2-0.
Eastern Conn. earned a Sunday showdown with Tufts via a 63-37 blowout of Castleton State in Saturday's finale. From the tip-off of Sunday's final, it became clear that the tournament's final contest would be much closer than either of the two teams' previous games.
The momentum in the first half went back and forth, as the Warriors led by as much as 33-25 with three minutes left before the break, but the Jumbos clawed back to reduce the lead to 35-32 heading into halftime. The Jumbos' depth enabled them to pull away in the second; however, as three players came off the bench and played key roles in the squad's comeback win.
With several starters in foul trouble, two guards -- junior Vanessa Miller and sophomore Lindsay Weiner -- tallied seven points each in the second half, helping Tufts outscore Eastern Conn. 36-20 after the break and return to Medford with the tournament trophy. Senior co-captain Stacy Filocco also added a late three-pointer to help the Jumbos seal the win.
Although the win marked an appropriate start for a team intent on recreating -- and surpassing -- last season's successes, senior co-captain Kim Moynihan, who led the way on Sunday with 16 points over 33 minutes, still sees room for improvement.
"Our offense is relatively new for us," Moynihan said. "It seemed to work pretty well, but we can definitely run it better and more smoothly." Moynihan also cited foul trouble as a problem that will need to be addressed going forward.
In addition to the tournament championship, three Tufts players garnered individual accolades for their performances this weekend. Moynihan, sophomore point guard Colleen Hart and junior Julia Baily were each named to the All-Tournament team, with Hart claiming tournament MVP honors.
Baily posted solid play for the Jumbos on Sunday, tallying 15 points and seven rebounds, while Hart stated her case for MVP in the tournament's finale quite well, notching 13 points, six boards and four assists.
Tufts wasted no time getting the ball rolling against Mount Ida, as the Jumbos outscored the Mustangs 51-18 in the first half. That first frame was highlighted by 13 points from Hart, who cruised to 16 total points and seven assists on the afternoon. She also dominated from long range, going a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the three-point arc.
Due to the fast start, the Jumbos' entire roster saw floor time with 14 different players scoring in the contest.
"It's absolutely fantastic," Moynihan said of the team's depth. "In practice, we have so many girls pushing, and we all work really hard to make each other better players."
In the second half, the Jumbos picked up right where they left off defensively, unbelievably amassing more defensive rebounds (18) than points allowed (17). The Jumbos layered on another 44 more points and coasted to the easy victory, with senior Katie Puishys notching 10 points and Moynihan posting nine as the Jumbos rolled to their first 90-plus scoring effort in almost two years.
"It was really our team effort," Hart said. "We shot really well from the field. Every player on the bench came in, hit their shots, and it really showed how deep our roster is."
The Jumbos look to improve to 3-0 when they face Endicott at home tonight at 5:30 p.m. Last season the Jumbos defeated Endicott 74-69 in the championship game of the Endicott Tip-Off Tournament.