BRUNSWICK, Maine - First-year Janette Wadolowski drained a fade-away mid-range jumper with 1.4 seconds remaining in the game to give third-seeded Tufts women's basketball a 47-46 win over the No. 2 seed Amherst College in the NESCAC semifinals on Saturday afternoon at Bowdoin College's Morrell Gymnasium.
|Janette Wadalowski hit the game-winning shot for Tufts|
With the victory, Tufts improves to 24-2 overall and will play tomorrow in the NESCAC Championship game against the No. 1 seed and host Bowdoin. The Polar Bears defeated fifth-seeded Middlebury 84-58 in the other semifinal on Saturday afternoon.
Following the loss, Amherst falls to 23-3 and will wait until Selection Monday to see who they will face in the NCAA Tournament.
Entering the fourth quarter, Tufts led 38-36 in a back and forth affair between two of the top teams in the nation. The Mammoths' defense held the Jumbos scoreless over the first four minutes of the frame and got a layup from first-year Courtney Resch and a top of the key three-pointer from junior Hannah Fox to take a three-point lead. Tufts junior Sadie Otley hit a pair of free throws to end the Jumbo drought and were the only two points over a two-minute stretch. Junior co-captain Erica DeCandido gave the Jumbos a 42-41 edge with 2:59 on the clock off a layup. Then Amherst senior Maeve McNamara hit a big corner three to take the lead back.
Tufts sophomore Emily Briggs was left alone on the left side of the three-point line with 1:24 remaining and swished a three to regain the lead for the Jumbos. The next two possessions of the game were a turnover and a missed jumper before Amherst junior Cam Hendricks connected on a pair of foul shots with 0:23 remaining to put Amherst up 46-45. The Jumbos advanced the ball with a timeout and then got it into the hands of Wadolowski who hit the huge jumper for a 47-46 lead with 1.4 seconds remaining. The Jumbos played good team defense on the Amherst inbounds pass after the Wadolowski shot, forcing a turnover which essentially secured the victory.
The Jumbos and Mammoths came into the game with the top two defenses in the conference and it was a defensive battle throughout. In the first four minutes of the game, there were only six points scored between the two squads, with Tufts netting four and Amherst two. The Jumbos' points came from junior Cailin Harrington and DeCandido over that stretch. Resch connected on a three-pointer from senior Meghan Sullivan to give the Mammoths a one-point edge. Tufts first-year Molly Ryan then scored four unanswered points off a jumper and a layup. In the final three minutes of the first frame, Sullivan hit a three and DeCandido made a layup as the Jumbos had a 10-8 lead after one. Both teams were held to under 30-percent from the floor in the first.
Amherst's defense picked it up a notch to start the second as they held the Jumbos scoreless for almost four minutes while scoring six points. Hendricks, Resch, and the Mammoths' leading scorer Madeline Eck each netted two points over that stretch. DeCandido hit the jumper that ended the scoreless stretch. Eck then converted an and-one to give the Mammoths a five-point edge with 5:01 left in the second. Ryan came right back with a three-pointer and sophomore Angela Alibrandi connected on a layup to even the score for Tufts. Over the final three minutes of the quarter, the brown and blue scored three of the final five points led by a Ryan jumper to take a 20-19 lead into the locker room.
Out of the half, both teams' offenses were able to find a rhythm as each shot 50 percent from the floor in the third. Fox came out aggressive and scored the Mammoths' first nine points over a five-minute span to begin the third as she hit a three, a layup, a jumper, and a pair of free throws. The Jumbos were led by senior co-captain Jac Knapp in that stretch as she netted four of the team's 10 points in a 30-28 game. DeCandido, Ryan, and Wadolowski each scored during that stretch. Resch then hit a pair of three-pointers to regain the lead for the Mammoths. After the second Resch three, the Jumbos ended the third on an 8-2 run led by four points from DeCandido as they now led 38-36 entering the fourth.
The Mammoths outscored the Jumbos 10-9 in the fourth, but Wadolowski jumper was the biggest basket and helped the brown and blue advance. Briggs, McNamara, and Fox all hit big three-pointers in the fourth as they were tied for the highest point total in the quarter.
For the game, Tufts shot 18-55 and Amherst was 16-41 from the floor. The Jumbos pulled down 33 rebounds and the Mammoths collected 31. Both defenses were opportunistic as there were a combined 35 turnovers in the game. The Jumbos forced 22 turnovers while the Mammoths recorded 13. The lead changed 16 times and there were 10 ties in the contest.
DeCandido recorded team-highs with 14 points and nine rebounds as she almost posted a double-double. Ryan also scored in double-figures with 11 points and crashed the boards often with five rebounds. Knapp tallied five points and two steals as she applied pressure in the backcourt. The Jumbos had eight different players score.
Resch netted a game-high 15 points, shooting an efficient 6-10 from the field. Fox was also in double-digits with 14 points and pulled down five boards. Eck collected a team-leading seven rebounds and chipped in seven points. All six Mammoths that appeared in the game scored.
This was the first Jumbo win over Amherst since February 2016 which was a 52-51 regular-season victory by the Jumbos.
Written By Athletic Communications Intern Bryan Costello