NESCAC Final: No. 3 Tufts 75, No. 1 Bowdoin 69

NESCAC Final: No. 3 Tufts 75, No. 1 Bowdoin 69

Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information

BRUNSWICK, Maine – Senior co-captain Jac Knapp netted a game-high 25 points and reached the 1,000th career-point milestone as the No. 3 Jumbos recorded a 75-69 victory over No. 1 Bowdoin to claim the NESCAC Women's Basketball Championship on Sunday at Morrell Gymnasium. This was Tufts' third NESCAC Championship in program history and its first since the 2015.

With the victory, the Jumbos improve to 25-2 overall. The Jumbos avenged an 82-63 loss to the Polar Bears during the regular season. Tufts moves to 2-2 in NESCAC Championship games against Bowdoin with its other win coming in the 2014-15 season. 

Bowdoin entered the game undefeated, but fall to 26-1. 

A tightly contested game throughout, the Jumbos started the fourth quarter leading 52-51. Knapp and junior Erica DeCandido combined to score the first eight points of the period in just over a minute to push Tufts' lead to nine. The Polar Bears held the Jumbos scoreless for the next three minutes to climb back within three, but the Jumbos rattled off six straight points to take a 66-60 lead with just over four minutes to go in the game. A layup by Taylor Choate brought the Polar Bears to within two, 67-65, with 2:45 remaining. Tufts was able to help secure the win with eight points from the charity stripe in the final minutes of the contest.

Bowdoin opened the contest on a 6-2 run. Tufts answered over the next three minutes, scoring eight of the next 11 points to take a one-point lead. Bowdoin junior Maddie Hasson responded by scoring final six points of the frame for Bowdoin, but a buzzer-beating shot by Tufts first-year Jeanette Wadolowski gave the Jumbos a 23-19 edge after one period of play.

In a first half that saw five lead changes and a tie score four separate times, Molly Ryan made three 3-pointers, including one at the halftime horn, in the second quarter to give Tufts a 37-33 lead heading into the break.

Out of the locker room, Hasson and DeCandido combined to score the first eight points of the second half. Knapp accounted for four of the Jumbos five points towards the end of the third. Over the final two minutes of the frame, Bowdoin first-year Annie Boasberg sank a pair of three's as the Polar Bears ended the quarter on an 8-4 run cutting the Jumbo lead to just one, 52-51, heading inot the final frame. 

The fourth quarter was a high scoring one as the Jumbos outscored the Polar Bears 23-18 to propel them to a 75-69 victory. Knapp took over in the final quarter scoring 15 points and was 8-for-9 from the free throw line. Choate had a team-high seven points in the final frame for Bowdoin.

Tufts finished the game shooting 27-for-58 from the floor, while Bowdoin was 21-for-44 from the field. The Polar Bears won the battle on the boards, 31-25. Tufts' defense forced 21 Polar Bear turnovers. Each team shot well from the foul line as the Polar Bears were 20-for-21 and Tufts was 16-for-19.

DeCandido also scored in double-figures for the Jumbos with 17 and dished out a team-high five assists. Tufts had eight players score in the game.

Hasson had a team-high 20 points for the Polar Bears and was an efficient 10-for-10 from the foul line. Abby Kelly chipped in 16 points and pulled down five rebounds. Samantha Roy and Choate were also in double-figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively.