MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – The No. 1 Tufts University women's basketball team extended its unbeaten streak to 17 on Friday evening, as the Jumbos utilized a 10-0 first-quarter spurt and scored the final 15 points of the first half in a commanding 80-45 NESCAC-Conference victory against Wesleyan in Middletown, Connecticut.
|Erica DeCandido scored eight points on 4-for-4 shooting off the bench.|
The Jumbos' (17-0, 5-0 in NESCAC) bench dropped 37 points, as sophomore forward Katie Martensen tallied a career-high 11 points on 3-for-6 shooting from the floor and a 5-for-6 performance from the free-throw line in 14 minutes off the bench.
Junior forward Melissa Baptista, who is averaging 17.4 points in her last five games, led all players in points (18) and rebounds (eight), as the Somerville, Massachusetts, native went 7-for-12 from the field and 4-for-5 from the charity stripe. Senior captain Michela North posted a 15-point performance, including shooting 7-for-9 from the foul line.
Sophomore guard Olivia Gorman paced the Cardinals (5-10, 0-5 in NESCAC) with a team-high 12 points, to go along with four rebounds in 27 minutes of action off the bench.
The Cardinals took an early 6-5 lead on a jumper by senior guard Danielle Gervacio with 6:52 left in the first. The visitors then embarked on a 10-0 run over the next 2:49 of the game, as a North started the run with a layup and concluded the run with a pair of free throws, giving the Jumbos a 15-6 advantage with 4:03 remaining.
Junior guard Jennie Mucciarone scored with two seconds remaining in the first frame, giving the Jumbos a 25-13 cushion, and then a layup by freshman guard Ava Tompkins of the Cardinals' cut the Jumbos' advantage to 31-20 with 4:43 left in the half.
The Jumbos' outscored the visitors, 21-7, in the second frame and utilized a 15-0 spurt in the final 4:23 of the half, en route to taking a 46-20 lead into intermission. Junior captain and point guard Lauren Dillon started the run with back-to-back made foul shots and senior forward Katy Hicks put an exclamation point on the spurt, nailing a 3-point shot with 58 seconds remaining.
The Jumbos did not allow the Cardinals to get closer than 19 in the second half, as the visitors won the third, 19-11, and the fourth, 15-14.
The Jumbos' defense, which has now held 15 of 17 opponents to 50 points or less this season, posted another impressive effort, forcing the Cardinals to shoot 26.2 percent (17-for-65) from the field and 15 percent from beyond the arc (3-for-20). The squad forced 21 turnovers, scoring 25 points off those takeaways.
The teams' battled on the boards, as the Jumbos won the rebounding margin, 43-36, while the visitors shot 50 percent from the field (28-for-56). Both squads shot well from the free-throw line, as the Jumbos went 22-for-26 (84.6 percent) and the Cardinals went 8-for-9 (88.9 percent).
The Jumbos will be back in action on Saturday with a 3 p.m. tilt at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut.