MEDFORD, Mass. – The Tufts University women's basketball team defeated Messiah College, 70-39, in the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen Friday night at the University of Scranton.
|Knapp led the Jumbos with a career-high 23 points.|
The Jumbos (26-4) will move on to the Elite Eight after getting by the Falcons (27-3) who were riding a thirteen-game winning streak coming into the matchup with Tufts. The Jumbos will be one of the last eight DIII women's college basketball teams to be playing for the fifth straight year.
Jac Knapp had a career night for Tufts, scoring a team and career-high 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting and going 7-of-8 from the free throw line, all while also collecting four steals, three rebounds, and two assists. Erica DeCandido contributed 16 points, six rebounds, two steals, and two blocks and Lauren Dillon was in excellent form as well dishing out a game-high seven assists and scoring six points and grabbing four steals as well.
No one from Messiah scored in double figures as they were led by Leah Springer and Hannah Brown off the bench with eight and nine points respectively. Springer also had eight boards.
Tufts controlled the game from the get go, starting out fast by opening the game on an 8-0 run off points from Knapp, DeCandido, and Melissa Baptista. Messiah got their first bucket with 4:30 left in the first quarter when Leah Springer got to the rim for a layup. Cailin Harrington subbed in after that and immediately hit a three-pointer, followed by a three by Lauren Dillon after Harringon stole the ball on the the end. The Jumbos kept up the good defensive for the rest of the frame to go into the second up, 22-8.
The Falcons struck first in the second quarter with a pair of free throws by Springer, but Tufts remained hot, specifically DeCandido who scored eight of the Jumbos next 10 points. Dillon hit her second three of the game with two and half minutes to go and then Knapp put an exclamation point on the half with a three-pointer of her own. They took a 26-point lead into the locker room, 42-16.
The Jumbos picked up where they left off scoring the first 10 points of the second half from three buckets from Knapp and three free throws from Baptista. The Falcons got a few back scoring 11 out of the next 13 points in the game to bring the gap back to 54-26, but Knapp continued her strong performance and capped the third frame with a free throw for her 23rd point of the night.
The final quarter was the closest, points-wise, of the night with Tufts outscoring Messiah 15-13 in the frame to wrap up the 31-point win.
The Jumbos had a particularly good shooting night, hitting 46.2 percent of their shots, practically 40 percent from beyond the arc, and was 83.3 percent from the free throw line. On the other hand, a stifling Tufts defense held the Falcons to just a 9-of-43 (20.9 percent) performance from the floor. The Jumbos also forced the Falcons into 24 turnovers, 15 of them coming from steals.
Tufts will play the winner of Scranton and Bowdoin in the tournament quarterfinals tomorrow at Scranton at 6 p.m.
Written by Curtis Stoychoff, Athletic Communications Intern