Tufts Women's Basketball Tops UNE in Early-Season New England Showdown

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Melissa Baptista posted a double-double in Tufts win over the University of New England.
Tufts athletics file photo 

MEDFORD - In an early-season match-up between two of New England's nationally-ranked teams, #3 Tufts earned a 55-43 victory over #19 University of New England Monday night at Cousens Gym.

Sophomore Melissa Baptista led the victory with 12 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Junior Michela North added 10 points and 12 rebounds with two blocks while classmate Lauren Dillon finished with nine points, six assists and three steals. The Jumbos improved to 3-0.

The Nor'easters, 20-point winners over Bowdoin in their last outing, took their first loss dropping to 3-1. UNE was led by a game-high 15 points from junior Alicia Brown, who also grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots. Sophomore Olivia Shaw scored 10 points with six rebounds off the bench for the visitors.

Tufts led for 99 percent of the game, but wasn't able to pull away. The Nor'easters had the margin down to five, 39-34, on Brown's lay-up at 6:46 of the fourth quarter. However, Tufts junior Josie Lee answered with a three-pointer and the hosts added to their eventual winning margin at the free throw line.

Senior tri-captain Emma Roberson had two baskets as Tufts scored the game's first eight points. UNE rallied to record the next nine and take a 9-8 lead on Shaw's lay-up at 4:36 of the opening quarter. That would be their only lead. Roberson's three gave Tufts the lead for good and they led 15-11 at the end of one.

Neither team mounted much offense in the second period with only a combined 16 points scored. Tufts led 24-18 at intermission led by Roberson's nine points. Shaw had five for UNE. The teams shot a combined 18 for 61 (29.5 percent) in the opening 20 minutes.

After a lay-up by senior Lauren Hayden on the first shot of the second half pulled the Nor'easters within four (24-20), the Jumbos woulud tally eight of the next 10 points to build their first double-digit margin. North's lay-up at 5:14 put Tufts up 32-22.

The Tufts advantage was at 10 again, 35-25, when senior Michelle Wu beat the shot clock with a turn-around jumper off an offensive rebound at 3:21 of the third. A pair of baskets by Brown cut the UNE deficit to six (35-29) heading into the fourth.

UNE's five-point deficit in the fourth quarter was the closest they had been since the start of the second half, but the Jumbos kept them at bay.

Roberson finished with nine points and six steals as UNE committed 25 turnovers. Lee had six points with seven rebounds. Tufts shot just 32.3 percent (21/65), but hauled in 22 offensive rebounds. Baptista had six.

Senior Meghan Gribbin earned six assists with five points, three rebounds, two blocks and two steals for the visitors. Senior Alanna Vose submitted four points, four steals, three rebounds and two assists. Hayden posted five points and five rebounds. UNE shot just 2 for 10 from three-point land including one at the fourth-quarter buzzer. They finished at 33.9 percent (19/56) overall.

The Jumbos travel to Bowdoin for a non-conference contest on Saturday at 2 pm. UNE is next in action on Wednesday when they open Commonwealth Coast Conference play at home against Wentworth in a 5:30 pm tip-off.