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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Friday, June 21, 2024

Women’s basketball takes down UMass Dartmouth, continues strong start to season

The Tufts women's basketball team defeated UMass Dartmouth 76-59 on Dec. 4.

As the final buzzer sounded in Tufts women's basketball's matchup against the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Corsairs on Dec. 4, the Jumbos came out on top with a resounding 76–59 win over the hosts to improve to 5–1 on the season. In a game defined by lots of back-and-forth action, the Jumbos used a huge fourth quarter to pull away and come out with the win.

The game started with both teams trading baskets for much of the first quarter, with the Jumbos holding a 1-point lead heading into the second quarter. However, the second quarter was a different story as the Jumbos scored 18 points and held the Corsairs to just seven points, taking a 12-point lead into halftime. Senior guard and co-captain Molly Ryan was instrumental in the Jumbos’ second-quarter surge, scoring six points including a huge 3-pointer that kickstarted a 9–0 Jumbos run. Ryan led all scorers with 23 points, while also chipping in three rebounds, three assists and four steals

The second half began in a similar fashion to the first, with both teams trading baskets and UMass Dartmouth taking advantage of a 16–7 run to keep things close. Yet another 3-pointer from Ryan late in the third seemed to be sufficient to keep the lead just big enough for the Jumbos. In what seemed to be a pattern, the fourth quarter overwhelmingly favored the Jumbos, allowing them to pull away from the Corsairs and take the win in a comfortable fashion. Graduate guard and co-captain Erin Poindexter McHan spearheaded the Jumbos’ fourth-quarter attack, splashing three 3-pointers, including two toward the end of the game, to steal the game for the Jumbos. 

While the Jumbos’ offense exploded in the second and fourth quarters, Ryan highlighted their strong defense as the main reason they were able to pull away.

“I believe what really changed the game was our defense,” Ryan said. “In the second quarter, we communicated more efficiently on the defensive end leading us to get stops,” 

The three-headed attack of Ryan, Poindexter McHan, who scored 22 points and shot a scorching six of nine from three and junior forward Maggie Russell, who logged another double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds, was too much for the Corsairs’ defense to handle.

With Russell and senior forward and co-captain Sofia Rosa down low, defense shifted much of its attention to the bigs. This naturally led to open looks from behind the arc that needed to be capitalized on. The Jumbos did just that, shooting 11–28 (39.3%) from deep. 

The Jumbos also logged 17 assists as a team. Coupled with a strong shooting night from three, head coach Jill Pace spoke on the importance of finding open players and how the presence of Russell and Rosa opens up more offensive opportunities. 

“UMass Dartmouth does a nice job helping in the paint, which inevitably leaves some people open [so] it's just a matter of finding those players who are open,” Pace said. “You talk about hitting open shots when you have great post players like [Russell] and [Rosa] down there in the paint, the defense really collapses on them which enables our shooters to get more open.”

The win over the Corsairs was a nice rebound after a narrow loss to Transylvania on Nov. 21, the only loss for the Jumbos in the early portion of this season. Currently ranked as the No. 15 Div. III team in the country, the Jumbos continue to show why they are considered one of Div. III's top teams year in and year out. With lots of basketball left to play, the Jumbos do not plan to let their foot off the gas pedal any time soon. With a long season ahead, Pace emphasized the importance of continuous improvement and maintaining consistency. 

“We focus on getting better every day,” Pace said. “I think just being consistent through minute to minute and quarter to quarter and, you know, just making those improvements so that we're peaking at the right time down the line."

The Jumbos return to Cousens Gym for a Wednesday night tilt against WPI on Dec. 8.

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