NESCAC Semifinal: No. 3 Tufts 47, No. 2 Amherst 46

NESCAC Semifinal: No. 3 Tufts 47, No. 2 Amherst 46

Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information

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 in the NESCAC Semifinals on Saturday afternoon at Bowdoin College's Morrell Gymnasium. 

With the victory, Tufts improves to 24-2 overall and will play in the NESCAC Championship game against the No. 1 seed and host Bowdoin on Sunday. The Polar Bears defeated No. 5 Middlebury, 84-58, in the other semifinal on Saturday.

Following the loss, Amherst falls to 23-3 and will wait until Monday to see who it will face in the NCAA Tournament.

Tufts led 38-36 entering the fourth quarter. The Mammoths' defense held the Jumbos scoreless over the first four minutes of the frame and took a three-point lead. Tufts junior Sadie Otley hit a pair of free throws to end the drought for the Jumbos. Junior co-captain Erica DeCandido's layup at 2:59 gave Tufts a 42-41 edge. Amherst senior Maeve McNamara hit a 3-pointer from the corner to give the lead back to the Mammoths.

Tufts sophomore Emily Briggs' 3-pointer with 1:24 remaining allowed the Jumbos to regain the lead. 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. Tufts advanced the ball with a timeout. Out of the break, the Jumbos got the ball into the hands of Wadolowski who hit a jumper to put Tufts in front, 47-46, 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. There were only six points scored between the two squads in the first four minutes of the game. Tufts first-year Molly Ryan scored four unanswered points off a jumper and a layup to help Tufts take a 10-8 lead after one.

Amherst's defense picked it up a notch to start the second quarter as the Mammoths went on a 6-0 run. Eck then converted a three-point play opportunity to give the Mammoths a five-point edge with 5:01 left in the quarter. Ryan came right back with a 3-pointer and sophomore Angela Alibrandi connected on a layup to even the score for Tufts. Over the final three minutes of the quarter, the Jumbos scored three of the final five points led by a Ryan jumper to take a 20-19 lead into the locker room.

Out of halftime, both teams' offenses were able to find a rhythm as each shot 50 percent from the floor in the third. The Mammoths outscored the Jumbos 10-9 in the fourth, but Wadolowski jumper was the biggest basket and helped Tufts advance. 

DeCandido led the team with 14 points and nine rebounds. Ryan also scored in double-figures with 11 points and added 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.

The lead changed 16 times and there were 10 ties in the contest. The win marked the first Jumbo victory over Amherst since February 2016, a 52-51 regular-season triumph.