BRUNSWICK, Maine – For the second consecutive season, the third seeded Tufts University women's basketball team pulled off an upset in the semifinals of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) tournament. This year, #4 Amherst College fell victim to the Jumbos, as #6 Tufts defeated the second-seeded Mammoths 47-46 on Saturday afternoon at Morrell Gymnsium on the campus of Bowdoin College.
Amherst (23-3) will have to wait until Monday to make sure that their season continues with a bid to the NCAA tournament next weekend. Tufts (24-2) plays top-seed, national #1, and undefeated Bowdoin on Sunday at noon in the NESCAC championship game.
First year Janette Wadolowski hit a jump-shot from the foul line with just under two seconds remaining to give the Jumbos the final edge in a game that featured ten ties and sixteen lead changes.
Courtney Resch '22 came off the Amherst bench to lead all players with 15 points, hitting 3-7 from behind the three-point line. Hannah Fox '20 scored 14 points while Madeline Eck '20 had seven points and seven rebounds.
With two of the best defensive teams in the country, it was no surprise that the game was low scoring, and the margins in each quarter only a point or two apart. Tufts took a 10-8 lead into the first break, then Amherst pulled to within a point at halftime.
The Jumbo's lead was back to two points after the highest scoring quarter, as both teams shot 50% from the floor in the third quarter, and Amherst was 3-4 from long range, two by Resch and one by Fox, who had nine of her points in the third quarter and 12 in the second half.
Resch made back-to-back three-pointers in the third quarter to put Amherst ahead 34-30. Tufts never led by more than three points in the contest.
The Mammoths were up by three again after a triple by Fox midway through the fourth quarter, but Tufts got back in front on a pair of free throws and a layup by Erica DeCandido, who led the Jumbos with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Maeve McNamara '19 connected from the corner, but her three-pointer was answered by Emily Briggs, who helped the Jumbos retake the lead at 45-44.
Junior Cam Hendricks put Amherst ahead 46-45 with a pair of free-throws at the 23 second mark, but Wadolowski found her way into the lane for just her second field goal of the afternoon and the Jumbos held on to advance to their sixth straight NESCAC title game.
Amherst had won the last three over Tufts, while tomorrow will be a rematch of the 2015 championship, the last time Tufts won the crown.
The Mammoths had the biggest lead of either team in the first half, a 5-point advantage, at 17-12 midway through the second quarter after a three-point play was completed by Eck.
Resch was 3-4 from the field in the first half for Amherst and had seven points. Eck scored five points and had four rebounds in the opening twenty minutes.
Molly Ryan had nine points and four boards for Tufts before halftime, finishing the night with eleven points and three steals.
The Jumbos forced 22 Amherst turnovers and led in points in the paint (18-12) and second chance points (10-3). Tufts barely won the rebounding battle, 33-31.
Amherst shot 39%, held Tufts to 32.7% and from three-point land had a 43% to 18% edge. Amherst was also perfect on all seven of its free-throw attempts.