Tufts Garners Top Seed for NESCAC Women's Basketball Championship

Tufts Garners Top Seed for NESCAC Women's Basketball Championship

HADLEY, Mass. – For the second consecutive season, Tufts has earned the top seed in the 2014 NESCAC Women’s Basketball Championship after posting a perfect league record of 10-0. Quarterfinal action gets underway on Saturday, February 22 with Tufts, Amherst, Bowdoin and Trinity hosting the opening rounds. The highest seed following the quarterfinal round will host both semifinals and the final from March 1-2. This year’s champion will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Jumbos won their first 21 games en route to an overall mark of 23-1 before suffering their lone loss of the season in a 58-52 non-conference decision to Babson last Tuesday. Tufts, which is in pursuit of its first NESCAC crown, will be looking to avenge last year’s quarterfinal upset loss to No. 8-seed Bowdoin and advance to the semifinal round for the second time in five seasons. The Jumbos boast the top scoring defense in the conference, holding opponents to just 49.4 points per game.

Tufts’ quarterfinal opponent will be No. 8-seed Wesleyan. The Cardinals (12-11, 3-7 NESCAC) started the season strong, winning seven of their first eight contests before claiming a berth in this year’s championship. The Cardinals will be looking to advance to the semifinal round for the first time since 2008. Tufts handed Wesleyan a 62-53 loss on Feb. 1 in the lone meeting of the season, and owns a 2-0 record against the Cardinals in the championship with the most recent meeting occurring in the 2009 quarterfinals.

Amherst (22-2, 9-1 NESCAC), which received the No. 2-seed, is in pursuit of its fifth straight conference title and sixth overall. After defeating Williams in last year’s league title game, the Jeffs advanced to their fourth consecutive NCAA Final Four where they were defeated by Williams in the third-place game. This season Amherst opened the schedule by winning its first 14 games before dropping its lone league decision to Tufts, 63-56, on Jan. 17. The Jeffs’ only other loss came in a two-point decision at Williams five days later. 

Amherst will face seventh-seed Hamilton (11-12, 4-6 NESCAC) in the quarterfinal round. The Continentals, who are making their first-ever conference championship appearance, closed out the regular season by winning four of their six games in February to clinch a playoff berth. Earlier this season, Amherst defeated Hamilton, 60-35, in the conference opener on Jan. 10.

Bowdoin (20-4, 7-3 NESCAC) claimed the third seed by virtue of defeating Trinity, 59-46, on Jan. 31. The Polar Bears have appeared in each of the 13 NESCAC Championships, hold a conference tournament record of 29-5 and captured a league-best eight league titles, but look to return to the final for the first time since 2011. Bowdoin opened the season winning 14 of its 15 games, including the key win over the Bantams. The Polar Bears will face Williams. After starting the conference schedule with two losses, Williams (20-4, 6-4 NESCAC) closed out the regular season winning eight of its final ten games, including a two-point win over Amherst in a non-league contest. Both teams have squared off five previous times with Bowdoin owning a 5-0 mark in a 2009 quarterfinal matchup and four semifinal meetings. During the regular season on Jan. 17, Williams handed the Polar Bears a 69-55 loss in Williamstown.

The remaining quarterfinal game features fourth-seeded Trinity (15-8, 7-3 NESCAC) and fifth-seeded Connecticut College (14-10, 6-4 NESCAC). Trinity earned a program-best No. 4 seed after posting the most league wins in program history. The Bantams are hoping to make their second semifinal appearance with the previous berth coming in 2009, which was a 74-56 loss at top-seeded Bowdoin. Connecticut College (14-10, 6-4 NESCAC) is making its second overall NESCAC Championship appearance and its first since 2012 when it suffered a 57-40 quarterfinal loss at second-seeded Tufts. The Camels won seven of their first eight games after returning from the holiday break, and won their last two games of the regular season to clinch a tournament berth. The wins also clinched the fifth seed for Connecticut College as one of those wins included a 75-60 decision over Williams to earn the head-to-head tiebreaker. Trinity and Connecticut College have never faced each other in the NESCAC Championship. 

Results for the NESCAC Women’s Basketball Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.