MEDFORD, Mass. – The No. 4 Tufts University women's basketball team saw three athletes receive honors from the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) on Wednesday afternoon, as senior captain Michela North and junior forward Melissa Baptista were named to the All-NESCAC First Team, and junior captain Lauren Dillon garnered Defensive Player of the Year recognition.
North, who is a two-time NESCAC Player of the Week honoree, is making her second consecutive appearance on the All-Conference First Team, as she grabbed Second Team accolades as a sophomore at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season.
Baptista, who grabbed NESCAC Player of the Week recognition for the second time in her career on Jan. 23, received her first All-NESCAC accolade on Wednesday, while Dillon's award was the first time she has been honored by the conference. The three stars have led the Jumbos to a 25-2 overall record and a 9-1 mark in the NESCAC Conference during the 2016-17 season.
The NESCAC was loaded with talented players this season, as North and Baptista were joined on the first team by the Doswell sisters from No. 1 Amherst. Ali and Meredith powered the Purple & White to a perfect 27-0 season thus far and a second consecutive NESCAC title, as Ali also garnered 2017 NESCAC Player of the Year acknowledgement.
Kate Kerrigan of No. 19/21 Bowdoin (21-4, 8-2) was also recognized as a first-team selection, as she led the Polar Bears in points (8.8), rebounds (4.8) and steals (2.1). Tufts, Amherst and Bowdoin will all compete in the NCAA Division III Tournament, as Tufts and Amherst will each host a pair of games on Friday and one on Saturday.
The 2016-17 season has been a special one for North. She became the Jumbos' all-time leading scorer during a 73-44 win over Bates on Jan. 28 and the program's all-time rebounding leader during a 53-37 triumph over Brandeis on Nov. 27, with both games being played in front of the home crowd at Cousens Gym.
The Duxbury, Massachusetts, native tallied a season high of 21 points during victories over Colby on Jan. 7 and Worcester State on Jan. 11, while grabbing double-digit rebounds in eight games. She is averaging 11.1 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds, as she ranks No. 11 and 8, respectively, in those categories within the entire conference. She is also shooting a team-high 48.8 percent from the floor (122-for-250) and is averaging 1.2 blocks, checking in at No. 4 in both categories within the NESCAC.
Baptista has been a big-time scorer for the Jumbos this season, as she is averaging a team-high 12.7 points and shooting a team-best 37.4 percent from beyond the arc (37-for-99). She also leads the team with 1.7 rejections per game. The Somerville, Massachusetts, native is ranked second in the NESCAC in blocks, fifth in 3-point percentage and seventh in points.
She has scored 21 or more points on four occasions, while carrying the Jumbos with a 19-point effort on 7-for-14 shooting from the floor and a 5-for-10 effort from downtown during a 41-37 loss to Amherst in the NESCAC final on Sunday in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Dillon is ranked No. 1 in the conference in steals (2.9) and No. 2 in assists (3.9) per game, as she leads the Jumbos in both categories. The Wellesley, Massachusetts, native has 78 steals on the season and is closing in on the Jumbos' all-time single-season record, which is 87 steals by Lisa Raffin during the 1980-81 season.
Dillon has recorded three or more takeaways in 16 of 27 games this season, including posting a season high of six steals on two occasions. She has also dished out five or more assists 10 times, including an eight-assist game in a win over Rhode Island College on Feb. 13.
The Jumbos will be back in action on Friday at 7 p.m., as they will take on Saint Joseph's of Maine during opening-round action of the NCAA Tournament in Medford, Massachusetts.
Written by Trevor Wenners, Athletic Communications Intern
Link: NESCAC Release