The women's basketball team will host Conn. College tomorrow afternoon in the first round of the NESCAC tournament. The Jumbos finished the regular season with records of 19−5 overall and 8−2 in conference, earning the second seed in the tournament and the home−court advantage through at least the semifinals.
Following consecutive losses to Hamilton and Clark teams Tufts was expected to handle easily, the men's basketball team will have little margin for error if it wants to stay in the hunt for an NCAA tournament at−large bid. The Jumbos, seeded fourth in the NESCAC tournament, face the fifth−seeded Bates Bobcats this Saturday in a must−win matchup in the conference quarterfinals.
The men's basketball team will kick off its NESCAC Tournament bid on Saturday when, for the first time since 2006, Tufts will have the honor of hosting the quarterfinals as the No. 4 seed. No. 1 Amherst, No. 2 Middlebury and No. 3 Wesleyan will also welcome opponents to their home courts as the favorites to advance to next weekend. The fourth through eighth seeds have almost identical split conference records, meaning some close games are likely to ensue — including in Cousens Gym when the Jumbos welcome the No. 5 Bates Bobcats.
The men's basketball team went to Hamilton Friday night knowing that a win would mean a chance to hold the No. 3 seed in the NESCAC, a remarkable achievement for a team that finished last in the conference just two seasons ago. But the Jumbos came up short against a Hamilton team that needed the win even more urgently than they did.
Coming off a 48-31 loss against No. 1 Amherst last Saturday, the women's basketball team would like nothing more than to get back on the court and reaffirm its elite status in the NESCAC.
Next weekend, the men's basketball team will be doing something it has not done in a long time. Six years to be exact. On Feb. 18, the Jumbos will host the NESCAC quarterfinals in Cousens Gymnasium for the first time since 2006.
Freshman guard Ben Ferris was almost the goat on Tuesday. With 0.2 seconds left in regulation and Tufts leading 74−73, he was called for a loose−ball foul. But UMass Dartmouth made just one of two at the line, giving Ferris another chance and sending the game to overtime.
The Jumbos put their season back on track with a comfortable 87−75 win over Lesley University on the road Tuesday night, putting last Tuesday's heartbreaking home−opener — when visiting Regis overcame a second half double−digit Tufts lead to win 80−77 in double−overtime despite 35 points from Jumbos senior forward Alex Orchowski — in the rear−view mirror. The win puts Tufts at 3−1 on the season, the best start the program has had since 2001.
The men's basketball season kicks off on Friday and undeniably bears the highest expectations of any in recent history. After three years in the NESCAC cellar, Tufts broke out last season with a 13−12 record and the No. 5 seed in the conference tournament. And, though graduation left two massive leadership voids with the departure of Matt Galvin (A '11) and Sam Mason (E '11), the two combined for just 4.5 points per game last season.
As the NESCAC quarterfinals approach, the women's basketball team is looking ahead to its matchup in the 4 vs. 5 game with No. 22 Williams. Unfortunately, that means looking back over and over again at the game film of a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Ephs earlier in the year that came on a simply miraculous tip−in just before the buzzer.
The men's basketball team showed some newfound resilience this weekend at the second annual New England Big Four Challenge held at Babson College.
The women's basketball team will enter the NESCAC tournament with a spot in the NCAA tournament on the line. After dropping their last two conference games, the nationally ranked No. 20 Jumbos are far from being guaranteed a spot in the NCAA and need a strong showing to seal up their place.
The men's basketball team has finally reached the end of a painfully frustrating season. Falling to the bottom of the NESCAC and missing the postseason for the third year in a row, the squad finished at 2−7 in the conference and just 6−17 overall. The talent and teamwork were there but always seemed to fail when it mattered most.
In the span of four games stretching over eight days, the men's basketball team had lost in just about the most heartbreaking ways imaginable: a quadruple−overtime gut wrencher, a buzzer−beating three−pointer, a would−be game−winning jumper that was waved off after time expired, and a technical foul−laden meltdown. Each game was decided in the final minute, with the Jumbos' average margin of loss a mere three points.
It appears as though things are changing for the better for the men's basketball team.After picking up two consecutive wins in the past week, the Jumbos look to this weekend to continue the streak against lowly NESCAC competitors Wesleyan and Conn. College. The team is confident that if it can continue to play the solid defense and efficient offense that got it a win at Wheaton on Tuesday, the Jumbos can go 2'minus;0 on the weekend and have a realistic shot to make the NESCAC Tournament, which they have not taken part in since 2006'minus;07.The small turnaround began this past Saturday when Tufts defeated conference foe Bowdoin 58'minus;53 with a game'minus;winning three'minus;pointer from senior Dave Beyel in the final 30 seconds to tally its first NESCAC win. Coming off the high of the exciting finish, the team traveled to Wheaton, where it led for the entire 40 minutes and downed the Lyons 77'minus;67.After taking a 28'minus;22 lead into halftime, the Jumbos' lead was threatened by a 12'minus;0 Wheaton run that bridged the intermission. Tufts, however, answered with a seven'minus;point run of its own for some breathing room early in the half.Wheaton then took advantage of the more relaxed Tufts defense and chiseled away at the lead to tie the score at 40 points with 13 minutes left. Thanks to a three'minus;pointer from freshman guard Alex Goldfarb, though, the Lyons never got that close again, despite coming within one point on three occasions in the next three minutes.'I think one of the biggest things that we've done recently that's been a change is that we went back to playing defense as a team,' Beyel said. 'We're guarding the five players as a unit rather than one'minus;on'minus;one, which is what we let happen in the beginning of the season, and points got away from us.'The victory displayed not only the defensive strength that has eluded the Jumbos since early in the season, but big offensive performances from their go'minus;to shooters. Beyel finished the game with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while freshman center Scott Anderson was behind him with 16 points and seven boards. Senior tri'minus;captain Jon Pierce was the third Tufts player in double digits with 15 points and seven rebounds, as well as three blocks.'I think we started passing the ball a lot more, sharing it more,' said Anderson of the Jumbos' streak. 'We were getting a lot more touches on the ball 'hellip; a lot more people scored than just our one and two shooters. We started to play better team defense, talking a lot more and just playing better help defense. We were also able to break their press all game with all our ball'minus;handlers able to break it down.'Heading into this weekend, the team must focus on consistency with its newly improved team defense. Though the Jumbos never gave up the lead on Tuesday, each big run by Tufts was followed by a lull. And with playoff contention on the line, there is no room for defensive breakdowns.'I think energy and focus is what we can always improve on,' Beyel said. 'In both of our wins there were short spurts where we lost focus and threw the ball away a few times and got lazy on defense. I think those are two things we can continue to improve on - staying in the game 100 percent, mentally and physically.'Tufts is also looking for more points underneath the basket and will try to keep pressuring its opponents beyond the arc. High'minus;percentage shots will be key in ensuring points on each possession this weekend as the Jumbos look to continue their recent increase in field goal percentage.Right now, Wesleyan is 7'minus;11 overall and 0'minus;4 in conference play and sits in last place in the NESCAC. However, the Cardinals pose an offensive threat in freshman guard Shasha Brown, who is second in the NESCAC with 18.1 points per game coming into the matchup. Last year, Tufts earned its only conference win over Wesleyan in a 79'minus;78 battle.On Saturday, Tufts will face Conn. College, which is tied for last place with Wesleyan. And while the Camels graduated two key contributors last season, returning sophomore Demetrius Porter and senior Shavar Bernier put up a combined 50 points on the Jumbos in an 86'minus;72 come'minus;from'minus;behind win last season.As Tufts attempts to continue its recent string of success, it will try to incorporate some new offensive strategy to gain an edge in both weekend contests.'We have two different new plays that work to spread out the court rather than being congested in front of the net,' Anderson said. 'Both plays end up with Jon [Pierce] posting up in a one'minus;on'minus;one, which makes it harder for their defense to double'minus;team him. Defensively, both Wesleyan and Conn. have small, quick guards, so we're looking to force them to put the ball on the floor and ultimately make bad decisions.'With two more NESCAC wins this weekend, Tufts would more or less secure seventh place in the NESCAC and a playoff spot. But from here on out, the Jumbos are looking at each game as a must'minus;win, because any huge upsets in the next few weeks could potentially bump them out entirely.'If we win two it would be really tough for either team to come back and get ahead of us in the NESCAC,' Beyel said. 'We can't say it would clinch a spot because if [eighth'minus;place] Bates, Wesleyan or Conn. come back and get hot and beat a team they aren't supposed to, it could knock us down. With these wins and the rest of the games going the way they should in the conference though, it would be a cinch but it's not a definite. These are must'minus;wins for us.'
With a bitter taste in its mouth from two straight NESCAC title game losses, the women's basketball team will open up the conference tournament Saturday against the Wesleyan Cardinals. The third-seeded Jumbos, who lost the championship game a year ago to Amherst and two years ago to Bowdoin, will begin their title chase anew at Cousens Gym this weekend. For Tufts (20-3, 7-2 NESCAC), Saturday's game marks the beginning of what the team has been building toward for the entire season. Before it can build on last year's Elite Eight showing in the NCAA Tournament, the team will have to make its way through what will undoubtedly prove to be a very challenging NESCAC field. "As a team, we're very excited," junior forward Julia Baily said. "We have played Wesleyan before and know them pretty well. We are hoping to come out and play a solid game in both halves, something we have been unable to really do in the past. We're being really positive and we're excited to have the third seed in a really competitive conference." Two years ago, the heavily favored Polar Bears beat the Jumbos 64-48 for their seventh NESCAC championship in a row. Last season, in a meeting of the conference's then-top two teams, the Jumbos dropped a closer contest, 59-53, to the top-seeded Lord Jeffs. With title game experience from the past two years now in their back pockets, the Jumbos hope to finally get over the last hurdle on the way to a NESCAC trophy. "That's the goal, to get back into the championship game and have a different outcome than the last couple of years," coach Carla Berube said. "It's an added incentive — it gets our fire burning, and we'll be up for it." The nationally ranked No. 15 Jumbos beat the Wesleyan Cardinals on Jan. 30 at Cousens Gym by a 75-63 margin. Senior co-captain Kim Moynihan led the charge with a career-high 26 points as Tufts came back from a 30-27 halftime deficit to notch the victory. Before that, Tufts' last win over Wesleyan was in the semifinals of last year's NESCAC Tournament. This year's Cardinals are led by senior guard Ali Fourney, who leads the conference with 18.8 points per game, and graduate co-captain Lucy Sprung, who is third with 14.5. Following their loss at Tufts three weeks ago, the Cardinals (12-10, 4-5 NESCAC) won three of their final four conference games. "They have two very good offensive players that could be playing their last game," Berube said. "It's a team that we know fairly well, just playing them over the years. They're very well coached and they run their stuff well, and we've got to be at the top of our game. I'm sure they'll be in here trying to keep their season going, so we've got to come out with fire and intensity and play Jumbo basketball." Tufts has won eight of its last nine games, and the team is on a roll heading into the tournament. The Jumbos are coming off a regular-season finale victory at Worcester State, 58-47, that was good for their 20th win of the year. Still, the win wasn't as convincing as the Jumbos may have liked. "We were taking bad shots. We just couldn't find the basket … and that happens when you're going into somebody else's gym on a weeknight," Berube said. "We had some wide-open shots that hopefully we'll hit in our own gym here on Saturday." To achieve its ultimate goal and win that elusive NESCAC championship, Tufts won't be taking any opponent lightly as it attempts to move through the tournament brackets, and the matchup against Wesleyan is the first challenge it will have to face on the long road to the ultimate goal. "It's huge," Berube said. "It's our goal, it's our big goal of the season to win the NESCAC Championship. Saturday's our first step. It's the biggest game of the year and our last home game of the season, most likely, so we'll definitely be up for it. We need a great effort by all, and I'm sure we'll get it."
The regular season came to a close for the women's basketball team Tuesday night as the Jumbos notched their 20th win of the year. Tufts (20-3, 7-2 NESCAC) beat Worcester State 58-47 on the road for its ninth victory in its last 10 games. The Jumbos, coming off a Senior Day victory over the Bates Bobcats Saturday, were seeking to maintain their momentum in anticipation of the NESCAC Tournament. But they weren't about to look past the Lancers. "There [are] a lot of things that we need to work on, and we got to work on some things last night," coach Carla Berube said. "It was also a game for us to get our 20th win of the season, which was a big goal of ours. This was probably the best 8-15 team we've ever seen, so it wasn't like we could have a letdown and think we could walk in there and beat them." The Jumbos got off to a quick 5-0 start, but Worcester State battled to keep it close and trailed just 9-7 with 12:32 remaining in the half. A 10-2 run by Tufts brought the lead to 19-9 with under five and a half minutes left in the frame. The Jumbos were unable to put the game away, however, as the Lancers responded in the following two minutes with a 10-0 run of their own to tie the game. Tufts answered right back, going on a 7-2 run over the final 3:22 of the first half to head to the locker room up 26-21. Junior forward Julia Baily scored Tufts' final seven points of the half and led the way with 15 in the in the period. "It is always a good feeling to go into the locker room with the momentum in your favor, so that was a plus," Baily said. "However, the vibe at halftime wasn't great. We knew that we [hadn't] played the best basketball in the first half. We weren't boxing out, getting after loose balls and playing solid transition defense. We were really hoping to make a statement in the second half." Both teams struggled from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes, as the Jumbos were 1-for-7 from three-point range and just 37 percent from the floor while Worcester State went 1-for-5 from three-point range and was held to 26.1 percent shooting overall. But Tufts came out firing after the break, going on a 9-2 run aided by a pair of threes to open up a 37-23 lead. With 11:11 left in the contest, Tufts was on cruise control after building up the largest lead of the game, 46-29. Once again, the Lancers wouldn't fade away quietly, and they went on a 10-2 run culminating in a layup by freshman Kaleigh Charette, who led the team with 10 points, nine rebounds and four assists. The bucket cut the lead to nine with 7:44 left, but the nationally ranked No. 15 Jumbos never let the gap close to within single digits after that point, avoiding a late-game scare. "I think we all knew that we should have won by a lot more than we ended up winning by," Baily said. Baily ended the contest with a game-high 21 points, while sophomore guard Colleen Hart contributed 10 points to the effort and senior co-captain Kim Moynihan notched eight points and three assists. The Lancers improved on their poor shooting performance in the latter period, shooting 48 percent from the floor and hitting five of 12 shots from behind the three-point arc. Tufts, meanwhile, was consistent in each half, ending the game with 38 percent shooting from the field after shooting 39.4 percent in the second. Next up for Tufts will be the first round of the NESCAC Tournament, and the Jumbos will host sixth-seeded Wesleyan Saturday afternoon in Cousens Gym. As the Jumbos prepare for the conference matchup, they hope to build on some of their successes against Worcester State. "We didn't play spectacularly, but we didn't play poorly, either," Berube said. "They had some good minutes here and there, some really good basketball that we want to keep playing. They had … some wide-open shots that hopefully we'll hit in our own gym here on Saturday." "This week in practice we're really just going to try and focus on the important things that will help us this weekend against Wesleyan," Baily added. "We had spurts of great basketball during the Worcester State game -- we just need to try and maintain those spurts."
We're still three weeks away from March, but one thing is clear: The ACC and the Big East are the elite conferences in men's college basketball.