Big First Half Leads Women's Basketball Past Wesleyan in Conference Opener

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - The visiting Tufts University women's basketball team scored a season-high for points and finished with four players scoring in double digits in an 86-66 victory at Wesleyan in the NESCAC opener Friday night.

Idle for nine days after their previous two games weren't played due to COVID, the ninth-ranked Jumbos (9-1, 1-0 NESCAC) showed no signs of rust as they came out and scored 56 points in the first half. Wesleyan (6-7, 0-1) would outscore Tufts in the second half, but not by nearly enough.

Maggie Russell (pictured) led the Jumbos with 27 points, matching her career-high, and pulled down 12 rebounds. Erin Poindexter McHan scored 20 points with five three-point makes in seven attempts, and Molly Ryan finished with 14 points and 10 assists. Sofia Rosa had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Maddie Clark led the hosts with 16 points. Caleigh Ryan tallied 14 points with seven assists and Marina Petruzzi finished with 10 points.

Russell dominated in the first quarter for the Jumbos, scoring 15 points as Tufts took a 26-17 lead. She made five of seven shots including two three-pointers and grabbed five rebounds. The score was tied 10-10, then Russell led a 17-6 Jumbo run over the remainder of the period with 13 points.

In the second quarter, the Jumbos extended their lead to 22 points (56-34) with ridiculous three-point shooting. They had six in the period, with two each by Ryan, McHan and Sofia Gonzalez. At the half, Tufts was shooting 10 for 15 on threes and was on a 112-point pace for the game. At the other end, Wesleyan was just one for 13 on three-pointers through 20 minutes.

The Cardinals had a spurt to start the second half, pulling to within 60-42 on five points by Clark including a three-pointer. However, the Jumbos would keep their healthy lead throughout the frame and led 73-52 heading into the fourth. Russell led six Tufts scorers in the third with seven points giving her 24 heading into the fourth.

McHan's fifth three-pointer of the game put Tufts up by 26 (78-52) early in the fourth quarter. Wesleyan would get the margin down to 14 (80-66) with 12 straight points, led by seven from Ryan. However, the Jumbos would hold the Cardinals scoreless over the remaining 3:51 to finish out their victory.

Tufts shot 12 for 22 on threes (54.5 percent), their most three-pointers of the season, and had 23 assists on 32 baskets for their season-high in that category as well.

The Jumbos return to action at Babson on Sunday afternoon.