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NCAA Div. III Tournament 2nd Round
Tufts 54, Mount St. Mary 38

At Newburgh, NY
Saturday, March 8, 2008

Game Statistics

Sophomore Vanessa Miller played a key role in the win with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists

NEWBURGH, N.Y. -- The Tufts University women's basketball team has made its first berth into the NCAA Tournament a sweet one, defeating Mount St. Mary College in the second round on Saturday 54-38 to advance to the "Sweet 16" next weekend.

Playing in front of a body-painted and vocal Mount St. Mary's campus crowd at the Kaplan Center, the #18 Jumbos had control over the hosts for most of the game behind the strength of their defensive play. Next they will face University of Mary Washington on Friday (March 14) in the NCAA Sectionals. Mary Washington (28-2) defeated College of New Jersey 56-50 in the second round on Saturday and is the #5 ranked team in the country. #4 Messiah (27-2) will host the sectional in Grantham, Pennsylvania and will play Rochester (22-5) in the other round of 16 game.

In a meeting between two of the top 20 defensive teams in the country, it was Tufts that had the upper hand over Mount St. Mary. The Blue Knights were ranked #1 nationally in field goal percentage defense and #2 in scoring defense through March 2. However, Tufts, with #19 and #17 national rankings in those categories respectively, proved to be the better group on Saturday. The Jumbos held the Blue Knights to just 12 points in the first half, taking a 20-12 advantage into the locker room.

The score was only 9-8 Jumbos at the 10-minute mark in the first half after a three-pointer by Tufts first-year point guard Colleen Hart (Needham, MA). A Mount St. Mary basket by Vanessa Lawson gave the hosts a 10-9 lead at 9:24, but that's when the Jumbos began to gain an edge. They finished the half with an 11-2 run with three points apiece from junior Kim Moynihan (West Hartford, CT), senior co-captain Jenna Gomez (Norfolk, MA) and junior Stacy Filocco (Olney, MD). Nobody had scored more than three points at the half for Tufts, but defensively they held MSMC to 5 of 25 shooting (20 percent).

Tufts was able to keep its momentum into the second half. Filocco's three-pointer at 13:32 gave the Jumbos a 32-17 lead. An 8-2 spurt, with four points from senior co-captain Khalilah Ummah (Litchfield, ME), later turned a 34-21 Tufts advantage into a 19-point, 42-23 lead with 9:18 on the clock. Mount St. Mary's last gasp was an 8-0 stretch highlighted by four free throws from Lawson. That put the hosts within 12 at 44-32 with six minutes remaining and they seemed to have some life. The Jumbos were able to answer with the next four points, all by sophomore Vanessa Miller (Cincinnati, OH), for a 48-32 lead at 3:21.

They cruised home from there, improving to 25-3 overall. The Jumbos won without one player scoring in double figures, as nine points from Ummah, Gomez and Miller led the way. A massive post presence over the last few weeks, NESCAC Player of the Year Ummah recorded 13 rebounds and four blocks. Gomez added nine rebounds and two assists to her game. However, this was a defensive win, as Tufts held MSMC to 12 of 52 from the field (23.1 percent) and to their lowest point total of the season. The hosts were just 1 for 13 (7.7 percent) from three-point land.

The Blue Knights, who were the winners of the Skyline Conference, ended their season with a 26-3 mark. Lawson, Jackie Markert and Shannon Sangster scored seven points apiece to top them. Markert and Sangster also had eight rebounds each.

NCAA Div. III Tournament Bracket