NESCAC Semifinal: No. 2 Tufts 49, No. 3 Bowdoin 44

NESCAC Semifinal: No. 2 Tufts 49, No. 3 Bowdoin 44

Courtesy of Amherst Sports Information

AMHERST, Mass. - The second-seeded Tufts women's basketball team led 28-15 at intermission, and held off a late rally to defeat No. 3 seed Bowdoin, 49-44 in Saturday afternoon's NESCAC Championship semifinal contest at LeFrak Gymnasium in Amherst, Mass. 

With the win, Tufts improves to 25-1 on the season and will meet top-seeded Amherst (26-1) in the NESCAC final for the second straight season on Sunday, Feb. 26 at Noon at LeFrak Gymnasium. It will be a rematch of last year's NESCAC Championship game, which the Purple & White won, 50-49. Bowdoin (21-4) will await its NCAA Division III Championship fate on Monday, Feb. 27.

Tufts ran out to an early 8-2 lead behind three-pointers by Melissa Baptista and Jacqueline Knapp, and extended its advantage to nine (14-5) with a strike from long distance by Lauren Dillon and another swish from beyond-the-arc by Baptista to close out the first quarter.

The second quarter saw Bowdoin narrow the gap to eight on a Lauren Petit trey at the 5:47 mark, but Knapp answered with a triple of her own push the lead back to 11 (21-10) with 4:44 on the clock. A Jennie Mucciarone trey, followed by a bucket in the paint by Knapp gave the Jumbos a 28-12 lead before the Polar Bears closed out the half on with a Petit strike from long distance to set the halftime score at 28-15.

A back-and-forth third frame saw Bowdoin edge Tufts, 11-10, as the Polar Bears had five different players score buckets in the session. Tufts used three-pointers from Sadie Otley and Katy Hicks to give the Jumbos a 12-point, 38-26 cushion after 30 minutes of play.

Holding a 47-37 lead with just 38 seconds remaining in regulation following a pair of Erica Decandido free throws, Marle Curle knocked down a pair from the charity stripe and then canned a three-pointer to pull Bowdoin to with five (47-42) with just eight seconds on the clock. Dillon answered with two makes from the foul line for Tufts to make it 49-42 before Petit scored a bucket as time expired to set the final score at 49-44.

Petit led all players with 10 points, and added six rebounds in the losing effort for Bowdoin, while Curle finished with nine points and four assists. Ally Silfen added a team-high seven boards, while Kate Kerrigan, Curle and Lydia Caputi grabbed four rebounds each.

Knapp led Tufts with nine points and chipped in seven rebounds, while Michela North and Baptista added seven points each. North was terrific on the glass, hauling in a game-best 14 rebounds, while Dillon registered four steals in the winning effort. The Jumbos shot 34 percent from the floor and a stellar 44.4 percent from three-point range.