This Week in Tufts Athletics: March 7 - 13

MEDFORD –  It should be a sweet week for Tufts Athletics as both the men’s and the women’s basketball teams will play in the Sweet 16 this weekend.  The men will host NCAA Tournament sectional play for the first time in program history while the women head to Scranton for sectional play. And just as sweet—men’s and women’s track heads to Iowa to compete in the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Women’s lacrosse opens their season with three home games this week, while the men’s lacrosse team continues their series of road games with two contests on the road this week.  The women’ fencing team will compete in the NCAA Regional Championships at Vassar and the coed sailing team will take the water again this week.

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MEN'S BASKETBALL: Friday vs. Johnson and Wales at 7:30 pm -- NCAA Tournament

--The men’s basketball team had a historic weekend, hosting their first ever NCAA Tournament games in Cousens Gym on Friday and Saturday and picking up two wins to move to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.  Then the Jumbos were announced as a sectional host, and will now welcome Babson, Amherst and Johnson and Wales to Cousens this weekend for another weekend of exciting basketball.

--In the most recent national poll all four of the teams playing this weekend were in the top 20.  The Jumbos sit at No. 20 while Babson is ranked No. 16, Amherst No. 15 and Johnson and Wales is ranked No. 12.  Babson and Amherst will square off in the first game on Friday at 5:30 pm with the Jumbos taking on Johnson and Wales facing off at 7:30 pm on Friday night.  The two winners from Friday’s game will play on Saturday at 7 pm for the right to head to the Final Four.

--Johnson and Wales has a high-powered offense and has handily beat their opponents many times this season. The Wildcats opened their season with a 80-74 loss to Linfield before rattling off 21 wins in a row and then suffering a 102-94 loss to Albertus Magnus in the middle of February. Since then the Wildcats have won seven in a row including a 75-73 edging of Trinity in the NCAA Tournament first round and then topping Fitchburg State 86-74 in second round tournament play.  

--The Wildcats are averaging 89.9 points per game and Quarry Greenaway is a big reason for that as he is helping with 26 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game.  Tom Garrick is adding 22.3 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game.  After that there is a bit of a drop off, as the next highest scorer is Anthony Jernigan, turning in 10 points per game.

--The Jumbos didn’t face off with the Wildcats this year, but they did open their season with a 74-52 loss last year.  That was the first time the two teams faced off in program history dating back to 1999.  But the Jumbos team this year is noticeably different from last year’s team, and with another year of experience under their belts and home court advantage, the Jumbos are looking for a different outcome this time.

--On the Jumbos side of the ball they will look to their strong offense as well.  Sophomore Vincent Pace was leading the Jumbos offense heading into this past weekend and didn’t play either game this past weekend because of an injury.  The Jumbos have four others scoring in double digits though, and they were able to pick up two wins this weekend with Pace’s 17.5 points per game.  Junior tri-captain Tom Palleschi is averaging 14.8 points per game and 8.6 rebounds per game and is also adding 3.8 blocks per game.  Senior tri-captain Ryan Spadaford is helping with 12.2 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game and classmate and fellow tri-captain Stephen Haladyna averages 11.6 points per game and five rebounds per game.  This past weekend Haladyna had a career-high 24 points against Southern Vermont and 18 in the win over Skidmore.  His offensive outburst helped with Pace on the bench. The Jumbos also got 24 points across two games from rookie Ethan Feldman this past weekend, and sophomore Ben Engvall started with Pace out.

--If the Jumbos can get past Johnson and Wales, no matter who wins the first game they will be playing someone they have already beaten this season.  The Jumbos topped Babson earlier this season in overtime as Spadaford made a buzzer beating three to give the Jumbos the win and the New England Big Four Challenge title.  The Jumbos split with Amherst this year, topping the Purple and White, 84-73, in the regular season but then getting edged 86-83 in the NESCAC Semifinals.  

--Amherst fell to Middlebury in the NESCAC Championship but was granted an at-large bid into the tournament.  They hosted first and second round play and won two tightly contested games at home this past weekend.  They edged Husson 74-72 on Friday night in first round play and then played an even closer game with Cortland State on Saturday, winning 69-68.  Amherst was the higher seed in this sectional, but because the Amherst women are hosting sectional play this weekend, the hosting rights were handed down to the second seeded Jumbos.

--Babson has five losses this year, and four of those have come against NESCAC teams as the Beavers have fallen to Bowdoin in overtime, Amherst in double overtime, the Jumbos in overtime and Bates this year.  The last loss came against MIT during regular season play, but the Beavers avenged that loss by topping the Engineers in the NEWMAC championship. This past weekend Babson was at Susquehanna, where they picked up a 80-69 win over Hartwick in the first round of play and then edged host Susquehanna, 70-67, on Saturday in the second round.  

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Friday vs. Albright at 5 pm at Scranton -- NCAA Tournament

--The women’s basketball team had to hit the road this weekend, traveling up to the University of New England to face off with Regis and Moravian in first and second round tournament play.  The Jumbos topped Regis on Friday night, 61-49, before earning the 65-45 win over Moravian in second round play on Saturday.  With the win the Jumbos advanced to their fifth consecutive Sweet 16 and will now hope to win two more this weekend to make it to their third consecutive Final Four.  

--The Jumbos are headed to Scranton this weekend.  The host Lady Royals will face off with Christopher Newport on Friday, while the Jumbos will take on Albright in the other game on Friday.  All four teams at this sectional are in the national top 25.  The Jumbos were No. 7 in the most recent poll, while Scranton was No. 3, Albright No. 9 and Christopher Newport was No. 23.  

--First up for the Jumbos will be Albright. The Lions are 27-2 this years, with those losses coming against Amherst and Messiah at the beginning of January.  Since that loss to Messiah, the Lions have won 15 in a row, including a first round NCAA Tournament win over Husson, and a second round win over Montclair State, 69-66, this past weekend.

--Kelecia Harris is leading the offensive effort for the Lions, averaging 14.6 points per game with 9.1 rebounds per game.  Nina Mazzarelli is helping with 12.8 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game, while Shannon Thomas adds 9.6 poits per game and Alysha Lofton turns in 8.5 points per game.  The Lions are averaging 70.4 points per game this season while holding opponents to 56.1 this season. The Jumbos have not faced off with the Lions before in program history (dating back to 1999).

--In the other Friday game, Scranton will take on Christopher Newport.  The host Lady Royals have yet to lose a game this year with a perfect 29-0 record this season.  They beat Cathlic, 78-57, to win the Landmark Championship and then topped WPI, 67-42, in First Round play before downing Marymount, 60-44, in a Second Round game this past weekend.  The Jumbos and the Lady Royals faced off last year when the two teams traveled down to Puerto Rico over winter break.  Scranton edged the Jumbos, 52-42, and that is the only time the two teams have faced off in program history, dating back to 1999.

--Alexix Roman is leading the Lady Royal offense with 17.8 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game while Sarah Payonk is helping with 12.3 points per game and ten rebounds per game along with 5.8 assists per game and Bridgette Mann adds 10.9 points per game. The Lady Royals average 70.5 points per game while holding opponents to 50.5 points per game.

--The Lady Royals will take on Christopher Newport, a team that owns a 24-4 record this year. The Captains have lost to conference rival Marymount twice this year, and also fell to Salibury earlier this year.  The last loss came to Mary Washington in the Captial Athletic Conference Tournament.  But, the Captains received an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament and topped St. Joseph’s in first round play and Muhlenberg in the second round to advance to the Sweet 16.  The Jumbos and the Captains have not faced off before in program history, dating back to 1999.

--Offense is a collective effort for the Captains as they only have one player averaging double digit points.  Sam Porter is turning in 10.1 points per game, as Devon Byrd adds 9.3 points per game, Anitra Thomas is averaging 8.7 points per game, Makenzie Fancher helps with 7.8 per game and Jessica Daguilh is adding 6.8 points per game off the bench.  Porter and Byrd are averaging 6.6 and 6.1 rebounds per game, respectively. The Captains are averaging 70.5 points per game while holding opponents to 51.8.

WTRACK: Friday and Saturday at NCAA Championships
What you need to know: The Jumbos have three women traveling to Iowa for the NCAA Championships this weekend--senior captains Marilyn Allen, Alexis Harrison and Sydney Smith.  Harrison qualified in the 60-meter dash where her 7.63 school-record time is seeded third out of 17 entries in the race.  Allen also had a school-record qualifying mark of 8.84 in the 60-meter hurdles, a mark that ranks 10th nationally out of 17 in the NCAA race.  Smith’s 5:00.84 in the mile qualified 13th out of 17 for the NCAA event.  Preliminaries are on Friday for all three events with the finals on Saturday. All three Jumbos have NCAA race experience.  Harrison is in the 60-meters race indoors for the second time, Allen narrowly missed All-American honors last year as she was ninth in the 60-meter hurdles and Smith also narrowly missed an All-American finish as she was ninth with the distance medley relay indoors last season.

MTRACK: Friday and Saturday at NCAA Championships
What you need to know: Seven from the men’s track and field team qualified to compete in the NCAA Championships this weekend in Iowa.  Senior Mitchell Black will defend his NCAA Indoor 800 championship and classmate Veer Bhalla will join him in the 800.  Black will also run in the distance medley relay with freshman Colin Raposo, senior Alex Kasemir and senior Alex Apostolides.  Juniors Tim Nichols and Luke O’Connor are in the 5,000 meters field. Seven qualifiers is the most for the Jumbos since 2012-13 when seven went to both the indoor and outdoor championships for the Jumbos.  Black is the top seed in the 800 and is an eight-time All-American who has run at every NCAA Indoor and Outdoor meet during his career.  Bhalla is making his third appearance at the national meet, and was eighth in the 800 at the indoor meet last year, earning All-American honors. Kasemir has been a part of two All-American relays prior to this season. Apostolides, Nichols, O’Connor and Raposo are all making their first NCAA track appearances, but Nichols and O’Connor have competed at the NCAA cross country meet.  

MLAX: Wednesday at Keene State at 3:30 pm and Saturday at Middlebury at 2 pm
What you need to know: The Jumbos opened their season with a 14-13 come-from-behind win over Stevens on the road this past Saturday.  Senior Kyle Howard-Johnson scored back-to-back goals to tie the game and then Austin Carbone scored and assisted another to give the Jumbos a two-goal lead.  The Jumbos will face off with Keene State on Wednesday and then start NESCAC play on Saturday with a trip up to Middlebury. The Jumbos topped Keene State last year, 22-16, and have the advantage in the series 2-0, dating back to 1999.  The Owls have two games under their belts already, wins over Western New England and Rensselaer.  Middlebury opened their season this past weekend with a 5-4 win over Connecticut College.  The Jumbos topped the Panthers twice last year, 17-10 in the regular season and then 23-9 in the NESCAC Semifinals.  The Panthers still have a slight advantage in the series, 11-10, dating back to 1999, but the Jumbos will look to even that out this Saturday.  In the most recent USILA national poll the Jumbos were at the top as Middlebury sat at No. 6 and Keene State was No. 19.

WLAX: Monday vs. Castleton at 7 pm, Wednesday vs. MIT at 7 pm, Saturday vs. Middlebury at 2 pm
What you need to know: The women’s lacrosse team will open their season this Monday an they have a busy week ahead of them, hosting three games this week.  On Monday Castleton makes a trip to Medford for a 7 pm contest on Bello, on Wednesday night MIT visits at 7 pm and the Jumbos host Middlebury on Saturday at 2 pm.  This will be the first time in program history (dating back to 2000) that the Jumbos have faced off with Castleton and MIT.  The Jumbos topped Middlebury last year, 12-11, to open their season. Castleton won their season opener this past weekend, topping Western Connecticut State, 15-4.  The Engineers are off to a 2-0 start after topping Endicott and Keene State this past week. Middlebury opened their season last weekend with a 17-6 win over Connecticut College.  In the most recent Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association national poll the Jumbos were ranked No. 10 while Middlebury sat at No. 4.  

FENCING: Sunday at NCAA Regional Championships at Vassar
What you need to know: Eight different Jumbos will head to Vassar to compete at the NCAA Regionals this weekend, hoping to qualify to move on to the NCAA Championships at Brandeis from March 24-27.  Competing in the sabre will be senior Alexandra Boden, and sophomores Bridget Marturano and Nayab Ajaz, in foil will be junior Juliet Hewes and sophomore Julia O’Gara and in the epee will be senior Julia Malleck, juniors Anna Gooch and Chandler Coble.  Unlike the regular season, the NCAA Regional is an individual competition.  Athletes qualify for the Regionals based on a fencer’s seeding factor (FSF), which measures performance versus opponents during regular-season competition. All regional competition is conducted using a pool format that includes a minimum one round of pools to advance to a final.  Boden is competing in her fourth regional and Gooch and Hewes are both making their third regional appearance.


Stephen Haladyna, Senior, Men’s Basketball

Senior tri-captain Stephen Haladyna was a key part of the Jumbos winning their first two NCAA tournament games played at home this weekend. Haladyna turned in a career-high 24 points with ten rebounds in a 78-76 win over Southern Vermont on Friday night, including making a key three late in the game.  He then came out on Saturday night and helped the Jumbos with 18 points and seven rebounds in the Jumbos 88-80 win over Skidmore to advance to the Sweet 16. Haladyna has started all 28 games for the Jumbos this season, and is averaging 11.6 points per game and five rebounds per game.


Marilyn Allen, Senior, Women’s Track and Field

Senior Marilyn Allen ran the 60-meter hurdles in 8.84 seconds at the Tufts Final Qualifying Meet on Friday night at the Gantcher Center to improve her NCAA qualifying mark and reset her own school record.  Allen’s time ranks her 10th among DIII competitors, as she will run in the NCAA Championships this weekend.  The Jumbo narrowly missed All-American honors at the NCAA indoor meet last year as she was ninth in the 60-meter hurdles.  She will be looking to improve upon that finish this year as she heads to Iowa with fellow Jumbos teammates for the NCAA Championships this Friday and Saturday.

The men’s lacrosse team opened their 2016 campaign with a come-from-behind 14-13 win at Stevens on Saturday afternoon.  Trailing 12-10 at the end of the third quarter, senior Kyle-Howard Johnson scored back-to-back goals at 14:50 and 6:49 of the fourth to tie the score at 12.  Junior Austin Carbone then scored at 3:38 as assisted senior Connor Bibly’s goal at 1:52 as the Jumbos took a 14-12 lead. The Jumbos are the top ranked team in the USILA national poll, while Stevens was also receiving votes in this week’s poll. 

The women’s basketball team is heading to the Sweet 16 for the fifth consecutive year.  The Jumbos played up at the University of New England in a regional with the host Noreasters and Regis and Moravian.  The Jumbos topped Regis on Friday night 61-49 behind 14 points and nine assists from sophomore Lauren Dillon.  On Saturday the women then downed Moravian, 65-45, behind a double-double from junior Michela North who finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds. The Jumbos will now head to Scranton and face off with Albright in the third round of tournament play on Friday night.

The Tufts men’s basketball team had an exciting weekend, hosting their first ever NCAA Tournament games at Cousens Gym and picking up two wins to move to the Sweet 16.  The Jumbos topped Southern Vermont on Friday night, 78-76, behind a career-high 24 points from senior tri-captain Stephen Haladyna.  On Saturday night the Jumbos downed Skidmore 88-80, as senior tri-captains Ryan Spadaford and Haladyna combined for 32 points and junior tri-captain Tom Palleschi turned in his seventh double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds. The Jumbos will now host sectional this play this weekend, welcoming Babson, Amherst and Johnson and Wales to Cousens Gym Friday and Saturday night.

The distance medley relay took the track at home on Friday night at the Tufts Final Qualifying Meet, and the foursome of freshman Colin Raposo, senior tri-captain Alex Kasemir, senior Alex Apostolides and senior tri-captain Mitchell Black ran a 10:02.51 time, which is the seventh in the country. Also for the Jumbos on Friday, senior Bryson Hoover-Hankerson reset his school record in the 60-meter dash, running a 7.04 to win the final and shave 0.03 off his previous 7.07 best. On Saturday the 4x400 meter relay ran in the IC4A Championships at Boston University.  The foursome of sophomore Andrew DiMaiti, Kasemir, junior Nick Usoff and senior Veer Bhalla posted the nation’s 21st fastest time with a 3:19.90. Though the time was a season best for the Jumbos, it will not be enough to get them into next weekend’s NCAA Championships.

On the women’s side of track and field senior Marilyn Allen ran the 60-meter hurdles in 8.84 seconds at the Tufts Final Qualifying Meet on Friday night to improve her NCAA Qualifying mark and reset her own school record.  Allen’s time ranks 10th among DIII competitors. Sophomore Brittany Bowman ran the team’s best 5,000 time of the season with a 17:30.84 mark that is ranked 21st nationally.  

CSAILING: This past weekend the co-ed sailing team reached the final four and tied for third overall at the Sharpe Trophy Team Race hosted by Brown.  In the ten team regatta, the Jumbos posted a 7-2 record in the round-robin races.  The Jumbos topped Harvard, Bowdoin, MIT, Roger Williams, Yale, Rhode Island and Brown.  They fell to Dartmouth and another Brown team.  The Jumbo dinghies featured junior skipper Scott Barbano with freshman crew Ian Morgan, senior skipper Casey Gowrie with freshman crew Taylor Hart and junior skipper Griffin Rolander with sophomore crew Emily Shanley-Roberts. Gowrie was joined by freshman crew Florian Eenkema van Dijk for one race.

This weekend will be a big weekend for the co-ed team as they have two regattas on the schedule.  On Saturday and Sunday the Jumbos will host the Artic Circle Team Invite.  Some other Jumbos will travel to Roger Williams Saturday and Sunday for the Rudkin Team Race.

WSAILING: The women’s sailing team was back in action this weekend as well, racing at the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association Team Racing event hosted by Yale on Saturday and Sunday.  The Jumbos finished third out of five teams.  Tufts has a 9-6 record at the regatta.  Yale won with a 13-2 mark, Bowdoin was second at 11-4, while Connecticut College and Brown were fourth and five, respectively. Sailing for Tufts in three dinghies were junior skipper MaryClaire Kiernan with senior crew Amanda Sommi, junior skipper Kate Shaner with junior crew Julia Fuller and sophomore skipper Molly Pleskus with freshman crew Sabrina van Mell.

The women are off this weekend and will return to action the following weekend at St. Mary’s.