MEDFORD - In their first home game of the 2021-2022 season, the Tufts University women's basketball team (4-0) won a spectacular come-from-behind victory against the Brandeis Judges on Saturday. After trailing for the majority of the game, the tenacious Jumbos fought their way back from a 15-point first quarter deficit to defeat the Judges 81-77.
Three Tufts starters turned in double-digit efforts. Sophomore Callie O'Brien led all scorers with 26 points, three rebounds, and three assists, shooting 11 of 19 from the floor. Forward Maggie Russell posted her third double-double in four games, scoring 16 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists, while shooting 3-4 from the three point line. Senior guard Molly Ryan scored 18 points, four rebounds, three assists, and made eight of her 10 free throws. Additionally, bench forward Angela Alibrandi led all players in rebounds, turning in 15, seven of which were on offense.
In the first quarter, the Judges maintained strong momentum, driving to the paint with ease, and forcing difficult shots on defense. Brandeis quickly built a substantial lead over Tufts, as the Jumbos were unable to match the offensive stability maintained by their opponents. The Jumbos finished the period down by 15 (27-12), trailing after a quarter for the first time in this nascent season.
In the second period, the Jumbos began to chip away at the lead that Brandeis had built. Though the Judges began the period with a layup to extend their lead to 17, Tufts answered back with efficient scoring from the paint and midrange, and began to inch closer to their opponents. In the last minute of the first half, the three-ball started falling for the Jumbos, but Brandeis rebounded the ball well and managed to keep the typically explosive Tufts offense at bay, ending the half up 43-34.
The Jumbos began the third quarter with a renewed sense of energy, driving into the paint and shooting well from the perimeter, rapidly cutting the Brandeis lead to only four. Following a Brandeis time-out, the Judges answered back with a quick layup from forward Kerry Tanke and a long three from guard Francesca Marchese to expand their lead back to nine. The Jumbos regained the momentum soon after, going on a 7-0 run thanks to a Russell three-pointer and taking advantage of free-throw opportunities to cut the lead down to two, their closest thus far in the game. The Judges yet again answered back with a run of their own, taking advantage of several fouls and turnovers by the Jumbos to bring the Brandeis lead back up to eight with three minutes left in the quarter. Star point guard Molly Ryan ended Brandeis' run with a long three-point jumper, and a made free throw from team co-captain Erin Poindexter McHan helped to bring the Jumbos closer to the lead.
The fourth quarter began with the Jumbos and the Judges trading threes, with O'Brien and Alibrandi knocking it down for Tufts. The Jumbos rebounded the ball well on offense, with Russell rebounding her own misses two possessions in a row and scoring on both second-chance opportunities to tie up the game with three minutes left in regulation. The Jumbos and the Judges traded both baskets and the lead in the waning two minutes of the game, and two missed Brandeis free throws gave the Jumbos back possession with a minute left in the game up by one. Ryan drove into the paint and drew a foul, making the first free throw and missing the second, but Alibrandi was able to grab the offensive board and maintain possession. The Jumbos spread the ball around to burn off time, and Alibrandi drew a foul of her own, but missed both free throws to keep the Jumbo lead at two. With 30 seconds left in the game, the Judges quickly scored on a layup in the paint, giving the Jumbos back possession for a chance to break the tie. Ryan passed the ball to leading scorer O'Brien for a long rainbow three to put the Jumbos up with 16 seconds left. The Judges missed both of their last-ditch three-point attempts, eventually fouling Ryan, who made one of two free throws to seal the game for the Jumbos.
Tufts will remain at home for three of their next four games. They will face off against Transylvania at Cousens Gymnasium tomorrow at 1 PM.
Written by Max Chow-Gillette, Athletic Communications Student Assistant