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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Women’s basketball splits weekend against Hamilton and Amherst

Jumbos won against Hamilton 70–63 and lost to Amherst 68–63.

Maggie Russell 8.jpg

Maggie Russell is pictured in the Jan. 13 game against Hamilton College.

While most of the school was enjoying their last weekend of winter break, the women’s basketball team played in two NESCAC games against Amherst on Friday and Hamilton on Saturday. Tufts split the weekend, winning against Hamilton but losing to Amherst in two close games.

The Jumbos lost to Amherst 68–63 on Friday night. Tufts held a three-point lead at halftime but couldn’t keep it through the rest of the game. Amherst had a strong second half that Tufts couldn’t keep up with. The rest of the game was close, with Amherst taking the lead during the third quarter. Though the Jumbos were able to come within one point of the Mammoths near the end of the fourth quarter, they came up short of the comeback they needed.

Senior guard Samantha Sousa acknowledged that Amherst had a strong offense that was difficult to defend at times: “Amherst has a few really great offensive players that work really well together … They got hot, and we had to do a better job controlling them,” Sousa said.

After their tough loss to Amherst on Friday night, Tufts rebounded with a 70–63 win against Hamilton. The win was made even more exciting because Tufts’ only in-conference loss last year was to Hamilton.

Sousa explained that Tufts’ strong start against Hamilton put it in a position to win the game. After the second quarter, the Jumbos were winning 41–25, and the Continentals were too far behind to make up the difference during the second half.

“We just played better for a longer period of time against Hamilton. We started off the game a lot stronger, so that at halftime we did have a bit of a lead against Hamilton; versus against Amherst, our lead was only 3 points at halftime,” Sousa said.

Throughout both games, senior forward Maggie Russell was a dominant offensive force. She led the team in scoring with 18 points against Amherst and 36 points against Hamilton. Sophomore guard Annie Aspesi explained that Russell’s scoring was especially helpful near the end of the Hamilton game.

“Maggie [Russell] did awesome during the Hamilton game,” Aspesi said. “At the end, when it was getting close, you could tell she was fired up and she was hitting huge shots.”

In both games, the squad’s play was weakened by a few key scoring droughts. During the third quarter against Amherst, the Jumbos went almost four minutes without scoring, and in that time, the Mammoths were able to switch from losing by three points to winning by three points. It was a deficit from which the Jumbos didn’t come back.

There was a similar story in the third quarter against Hamilton. The Jumbos started with a commanding lead after the second quarter, winning 41–25. Though they were still winning after the third quarter, their lead became weaker, at only 46–43.

“There were a couple of times in both of those games, during the third quarter, where we just didn’t score and the other team just kept scoring,” Sousa said. “If we can score more frequently and consistently throughout every quarter, I think that will help us in the end.”

Aspesi was proud of the positive mindset the Jumbos kept through both games.

“I think that we did a good job staying together and staying positive when there were uncontrollable things happening,” Aspesi said. “I think we stayed really positive and together and just kept chipping away.”

Sousa also felt that this positive mindset helped with the team’s resilience in overcoming challenges during the game.

“That’s something that we've been working on throughout the entire season: being in tough situations but trying to remain as a unit and not let one reaction or one call affect our attitudes,” Sousa said.

Junior guard Sofia Gonzalez explained that the high level of competition in the NESCAC helped the team’s mindset, especially against Hamilton.

“I think that with NESCAC play, it’s a different mentality,” Gonzalez said. “I think that what went well for us to begin with [last year] was the fact that we were very driven and dedicated to winning.”

The Jumbos will continue with another NESCAC game this weekend when they travel to Lewiston, Maine to play against the Bates Bobcats on Saturday. 

Gonzalez explained that the Jumbos are excited about the challenge of playing the Bobcats and continuing with their season.

“I think that the goal for this team is definitely … to learn from stuff we didn’t do well and stuff we feel like we did do well, and continue to carry that forward and improve,” Gonzalez said.