WPI Hangs Tough in Tangle With Top-Ranked Tufts

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WORCESTER – Tufts Melissa Baptista (Somerville, MA) scored 17 points and Erica DeCandido (North Wales, PA) narrowly missed a double-double as the top-ranked Jumbos defeated host WPI, 63-50, Wednesday night in a non-conference matchup in Harrington Auditorium.

The Jumbos remain perfect at 7-0 while the Engineers slip to 5-2 on the year. The 63 points ties for the second fewest points scored by Tufts while the 50 by the Engineers is the second most versus the Jumbos this season. The 13-point margin was also the second closest in the seven games to date. Brandeis has the honor of holding the Jumbos to 62 points on November 26 as No. 9 Rochester followed with 63. The Yellowjackets own the other side of the scoreboard having dropped 51 on Tufts this past Friday. The game between the ranked teams was decided by 12 points, the closest gap of the young season.

WPI opened the game, scoring first off a Stasha Greenalch (Newington, CT) jumper 16 seconds into the game, but it wasn't long until the visitors from Tufts made three consecutive baskets, taking a lead they would not relinquish for the remainder of the contest. Ball control was a major factor as WPI committed five turnovers in ten minutes of play including three Tufts steals. DeCandido helped push the Jumbo lead to as much as nine, tallying five for herself and dominating off the glass, collecting four of her team's nine rebounds at the break.

Tufts extended their lead to 11 to begin the second quarter but the Engineers battled back coming within just six points when an Alana Keating (Leominster, MA) three point jumper found twine with 7:53 remaining in the half, forcing Tufts to call a timeout to recollect themselves. Following the pause, the Jumbos stampeded past the Crimson and Gray, scoring 14 of the next 16 points and extending their lead to as much as 18. Red-hot Blue and White scorer, Baptista continued to shine, notching six of her 10 points for the half in this span. After a pair of WPI layups, Tufts held a resounding 35-21 lead as the first 20 minutes of play concluded.

Coming back for the third quarter, the Jumbos controlled the pace of play, scoring the first four points of the quarter over a span of three minutes and 19 seconds. Not to be left out of the game, the Engineers made it a back and forth battle as they collected the next two baskets and later cut the Tufts lead to 15, as Greenalch scored on a conventional three point play, then found a cutting Maura Buckley (Melrose, MA) for her first assist of the game as time expired in the third.

The fourth quarter was another see-saw matchup. After being shaken up at the end of the third, WPI's Ama Biney (Worcester, MA) notched two baskets in the final quarter to bring her total to six points on the day, helping her team to outscore Tufts in the paint for the first time in the game, 12 to six. After the Jumbos reached the team limit in fouls, WPI reaped the rewards of a perfect, 6-for-6 free throw attempts, scoring 84.6% from the line in the game.

Buckley led the Engineers in scoring, tallying 12 points and collecting five caroms. Greenalch matched Buckley off the glass, and canned 11 points with a pair of steals. Madison Beck (Syracuse, NY) reached double figures as well, scoring 10 and Keating aided the effort with nine points herself.

Baptista also added four boards as DeCandido scored 15 points with a game-high, nine rebounds. Emily Briggs (Canton, CT) reached 10 points by the end of the game while securing six rebounds for the Jumbos. Jennie Macciarone (North Reading, MA) and Laure Dillon (Wellesley, MA) each nabbed a trifecta of steals and Macciarone contributed an additional seven points while Katie Martensen (Simsbury, CT) added an incredibly efficient six points in just eight minutes of play.

At the end of the night, both teams scored 12 points off turnovers as Tufts doubled up the hosts 12-6 in second chance points. The Jumbos also scored 18 of the games 29 bench points and enjoyed a 26-22 advantage in the paint, as well as a 4-0 difference in fast break points.

The Engineers head to Daytona Beach, FL for a pair of 1pm games on December 20 versus Wells (NY) and December 21 versus Spaulding (KY). The Jumbos play host to University of New England Saturday at 2pm.