WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Top-ranked Tufts University scored 18 points off 15 Rochester turnovers in the first half and that played a role in a 63-51 victory for the Jumbos over the Yellowjackets in the Williams College Invitational.
It was a matchup that Rochester head coach Jim Scheible wanted, toughening his team for the season. Tufts, ranked first in the D3hoops.com poll and #2 by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, is 5-0. Rochester, #9 by D3hoops.com and #11 by the WBCA, is 5-1.
Tufts closed the first quarter on a 16-2 run over five minutes to surge into a 22-9 lead entering the second period. Ten of the 16 points came after Rochester turnovers. The lead stretched to 20, 29-9, two and a half minutes in after back to back baskets by Erica Candido.
Rochester finished the second period on a 14-5 burst to get within 34-23, at the half. Lizzy Atkinson's two free throws with 37 seconds left got the margin down to nine, 31-22, but a three-point play boosted it to 34-23 and offset one free throw by Alexandra Leslie just before the first half intermission.
The third period was a defensive struggle. Rochester pulled within eight points three times – all through Leslie. She hit a pullup three-pointer from the top of the key (36-28), then made two free throws (38-30), and hit a runner in the lane (40-32).
After that, four players scored for the Jumbos in a 9-2 run which sparked Tufts to a 49-34 lead with 78 seconds left in the half. It was 49-35 through three.
Rochester was cold at the start of the fourth quarter and Tufts capitalized, rebuilding the lead back to 20, 57-37, when Erica DeCandido went coast to coast with a layup at 6:39.
The Yellowjackets had one more rally in them and they broke out, scoring 11 straight points: two layups from Lena Ethington, another trey from Leslie, a backdoor cut by Gillian Mair, and a layup from Leslie. That pulled UR within 57-48. Lauren Dillon helped seal the win for Tufts, hitting 4-4 at the line around a fastbreak layup from DeCandido.
Leslie finished with a game-high 19 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks. Ethington scored a career high 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Lauren Deming had six points. Atkinson finished with five, and Mair had four. Rochester hit 35% from the floor for the game (17-48) and 38% outside the arc (3-8). Brynn Lauer had four assists and Deming grabbed six rebounds.
For Tufts, DeCandido scored 18 points, had 10 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and one steal. Melissa Baptista had 13 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, three blocks, and two steals. Dillon scored 11 points and handed out four assists.
Notes: The first quarter was the telling point. Tufts led, 22-9, after one. Over the next three quarters, Rochester had a slim 42-41 advantage… This was Jim Scheible's 500th game as Rochester's head coach… On Saturday, the Yellowjackets will play host Williams College at 3 pm. Tufts played Bridgewater State at 1 pm in pre-determined matchups. Williams and Tufts both play in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and will meet later this season… It was Rochester's 12th game against a team ranked #1 at the time of the game. UR is 2-10 under those circumstances.