SCRANTON, Pa. – The host University of Scranton scored the final 15 points in the fourth quarter as they clawed back to defeat Tufts Women's Basketball 44-40 on Saturday night in an NCAA "Elite Eight" match-up.
|Emily Briggs netted a team-high 13 points.|
With the win, Scranton improves to 29-2 overall and advances to the "Final Four" where they will meet Thomas More next Friday in Salem, Virginia. Tufts' season ends with a 28-3 record.
The Jumbos used a strong third quarter to take a 35-29 lead into the fourth. Tufts sophomore Emily Briggs hit a top-of-the-key three-pointer and junior Cailin Harrington hit a jumper as the Tufts advantag grew to 11 (40-29).
The Harrington jumper with 8:02 left in the fourth quarter would the final points that the Jumbos scored. Scranton tied the game at 40-40 with 2:03 left in regulation. During the Lady Royals' run to even the margin, they got buckets from sophomore guard Taylor Rodriguez, senior Bridgette Mann, junior Makenzie Mason, and junior Sofia Recupero.
Tufts junior co-captain Erica DeCandido was able to get the ball in the paint with 1:38 and 0:47 left in regulation, but couldn't get either to fall. Mann had hit a pair of free throws with 1:14 left to give the Lady Royals a 42-40 advantage. Tufts first-year Molly Ryan then got a good look at the hoop from three-point territory with 0:09 remaining, but her three spun around the hoop and fell out and Scranton's Mason pulled down the rebound. Mason then stepped up to the foul line and made both free throws as the Lady Royals went on to win 44-40.
The two top defenses left in the NCAA Tournament set the tone early in the first quarter as there was only a combined five points in the first seven minutes of action. The Lady Royals got on the board first with a three-pointer from the team's season-leading scorer Mason. The Jumbos got on the board with a pair of free throws from DeCandido. The offenses showed a little bit of life in the final two minutes of the quarter as the teams combined for eight points. Tufts got their baskets from first-year Janette Wadolowski and senior co-captain Jac Knapp while the Lady Royals had Recupero and Mason net their points. Scranton led 7-6 at the end of the first.
The second quarter began much like the first for both teams as the ball just wouldn't go in the hoop and the defenses continued making life difficult. The Lady Royals scored the only three points over the first five minutes of the frame. Scranton junior Emily Sheehan connected on a free throw and Mason hit a layup to give the hosts a 10-6 lead. The Jumbos then held Scranton scoreless over the next two minutes and scored five points to take a one-point edge. Briggs made a mid-range jumper and Ryan hit a three for the five points over that stretch. Recupero then hit a pair of foul shots to end the Jumbo run. Over the final 2:32 of the second, the Jumbos outscored the Lady Royals 5-3 to take a 16-15 lead into the locker room. Wadolowski went coast to coast and drained a mid-range jumper at the buzzer to give Tufts the edge.
Tufts would build a double-digit lead in the third. Sheehan hit a layup on the first possession of the second half to give the Lady Royals the lead back. Mason and Sheehan combined to score four of the next six points with a layup apiece while DeCandido connected on a jumper. The Mason layup put Scranton up 21-18, but the Jumbos then went on a 13-0 run over the next three minutes to take a 10-point advantage (31-21). Briggs began Tufts' run with a layup and a three-pointer. DeCandido and Ryan also connected on threes and Wadolowski hit a jumper.
Kowalski ended the run by converting an and-one layup as the Lady Royals stayed in it. Recupero scored three of the final nine points of the quarter from the charity stripe to cut Tufts' lead to 35-29. DeCandido and Harrington scored the Jumbo points over that stretch while Mann hit a pair of free throws for the Lady Royals.
Scranton then outscored the Jumbos 15-5 in the fourth quarter. Mason netted a team-leading five points in the fourth while Briggs led the Jumbos with three.
For the game, Tufts shot 15-61 and the Lady Royals were 14-43 from the floor. Scranton pulled down 40 rebounds while the Jumbos collected 38. The brown and blue forced 15 Lady Royal turnovers. The game featured three ties and six lead changes.
Briggs led the Jumbos with 13 points and pulled down five rebounds. DeCandido scored nine points, had a game-high four blocks, and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Wadolowski and Ryan each netted six points respectively. Six Jumbos scored in the game.
Scranton was led by Mason who scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Recupero was close to a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. Mann also netted nine points and was active on the glass with eight rebounds. The Lady Royals also had six players score in the game.
Tufts seniors Katie Martensen and Knapp ended their careers with an impressive 112-15 overall record, a NESCAC Championship, four straight "Elite Eight" appearances, a 16-4 postseason record, and two National Championship game appearances.
Written By Athletic Communications Intern Bryan Costello