MEDFORD – Tufts Women's Basketball earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament "Sweet 16" for the eighth straight season and ninth time overall after their 52-46 victory against Haverford College on Saturday in a hard-fought battle at Cousens Gymnasium in the second round. The Jumbos' junior co-captain Erica DeCandido netted a team-high 20 points in the win.
Following the victory, Tufts improves to 27-2 overall and picked up their 32nd NCAA Tournament win. Haverford ends their season with a 22-7 record, but reached the NCAA second round for just the second time in program history with their 80-37 win over Rosemont in the first round. The Jumbos' next game will be Friday night against Messiah (28-1), who defeated Baldwin Wallace 64-51 in their second round game tonight. The site of the sectional round will be announced tomorrow.
With her team leading 38-37 entering the fourth quarter, Fords junior Maddie Gallic connected on a layup to push the visitors' lead to three. Tufts senior co-captain Jac Knapp then stepped up and hit a three to even things up at 40-40. The teams then traded points as junior Anna-Sophia Capizzi and sophomore Nyla Robinson scored for the Fords and the Jumbos got points from DeCandido and junior Cailin Harrington. The Jumbos' defense then stepped up as they held the Fords scoreless for four minutes as the offense scored four points of its own. Sophomore Emily Briggs hit the biggest shot of her season with 1:53 left to give the Jumbos a 48-44 lead. Gallic drove hard to the hoop with 40 seconds left, was fouled, and connected on a pair of free throws to get the Fords within two points (48-46). Knapp got the inbounds, was fouled, and converted both free throws. Tufts' defense forced a turnover to gain possession back, and DeCandido went to the line and made both foul shots for the final points in the Jumbo win.
From the opening tip, the game was a defensive battle as both teams looked to turn their defense into offense. Haverford started the game by scoring five of the first eight points off a layup from Capizzi and a three-pointer from the team's season-leading scorer senior Macy Goldbach. DeCandido had the Jumbos' first basket with a deep three and the Jumbos then went on to score seven of the contest's next nine points over a three-minute span. Briggs connected on a three-pointer and DeCandido buried a layup and mid-range jumper. The Jumbos' season-leading scorer Knapp got her first points of the game off a three from the right side of the arc and Briggs made another basket to put Tufts up by six (15-9) with 3:57 left in the first. The Fords' defense held Tufts scoreless the remainder of the quarter while they scored four points pulling them within 15-13 at the end of one. Haverford's points came off layups from sophomore Julianna Clark and Gallic.
The Jumbos' offense opened the second quarter with four points over the first two minutes with a cutting layup from first-year Sofia Rosa and a pair of free throws from junior Sadie Otley. Tufts' defense proved difficult to score on over the first six minutes of the second as they didn't allow a single point. Haverford's defense was just as good over that stretch, as they only allowed a pair of DeCandido free throws. Capizzi ended the Fords' scoring drought with a jumper. Haverford again held the Jumbos scoreless to end the quarter, finishing the second on an 8-0 spurt to tie the game at 21-21 going into the locker room. Capizzi scored all eight of the Fords' points during that stretch with her jumper and a pair of three-pointers.
The Fords opened the half by scoring six of the first 10 points over the first two minutes in which junior Megan Furch, Capizzi, and Gallic each netted two points respectively to build a 27-25 lead. Harrington connected on a jumper and dished out a helper to DeCandido for the Jumbos' four points over that span. DeCandido came out of the half and was Tufts' go-to option as she scored six of the team's first eight points in the third, including a jumper at 5:01 to give the brown and blue a 29-27 edge. Clark came right back down the court and connected on a three to regain the lead for the Fords. After the Clark jumper, first-year Janette Wadolowski came in clutch as she scored four points over a two-minute stretch in which the Jumbos tallied six unanswered. Capizzi continued to shoot the ball at a high rate as she knocked down a deep three to spark an 8-2 run to end the third as the Fords possessed a 38-37 lead. During the run, Gallic converted an and-one and the Jumbos got a huge bucket at the buzzer from first-year Molly Ryan.
The Jumbos would out-score the Fords 15-8 in the fourth and hold Haverford to 3-11 from the floor. Tufts turned to co-captains Knapp and DeCandido down the stretch as they combined for 11 of the 15 points in the fourth. Gallic netted a team-high four points in the frame.
For the game, Tufts shot 18-59 and the Fords were 17-45 from the field. The Jumbos pulled down 45 rebounds and Haverford collected 29. Tufts had 11 assists and the Fords had nine, while there were a combined 30 turnovers in the game (16 by Haverford). The game featured nine ties and eight lead changes.
DeCandido had a great all-around game as she shot an efficient 6-10 from the floor, made seven free throws, dished out a game-high five assists, and grabbed six rebounds. Knapp had nine points and recorded two steals. Briggs tallied seven points and had a block. Harrington grabbed a game-high seven rebounds and had four key points. Eight Jumbos scored in the game.
Capizzi led the Fords with 19 points, including three three-pointers, and had two steals. Gallic was also in double-figures with 11 points on 4-4 shooting. Clark provided seven points off the bench and recorded two assists. Haverford had six players score in the contest.
Christopher Newport and Scranton are the other two teams advancing in the Sectional which will also feature Tufts and Messiah next weekend.