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NCAA Div. III Tournament Quarterfinal
Messiah 55, Tufts 49

At Grantham, PA
Saturday, March 15, 2008

Game Statistics

GRANTHAM, Pa. -- The best season in the history of Tufts women's basketball is over, as the Jumbos lost to host Messiah College, 55-49, in the NCAA "Elite 8" on Saturday night. The Falcons (29-2) move on to the "Final Four" where they will play Oglethorpe next weekend in Holland, Michigan. Tufts (26-4), making its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, introduced itself to the national audience with its NCAA Tournament run into the national quarterfinals.

The Jumbos went down fighting, with the game undecided until the final minute. Nine-time NCAA Tournament participant Messiah had the lead almost all game, but the Jumbos were often breathing down their necks. In a third straight low-scoring NCAA game for Tufts, they were within four points at 38-34 on a traditional three-point play by junior Katie Tausanovitch (Lyme, NH) with seven minutes remaining in the second half. A three-pointer in response to that by Messiah's Katy Kalb and then two more points at the free throw line by Kalb at 6:26 had the host's lead up to 43-34. A four-point stretch by Messiah's Nikki Lobach surrounding three Tufts misses made it 47-36 and completed a 9-2 run.

Down 48-37, Tufts sophomore Vanessa Miller (Cincinatti, OH) nailed a three-pointer with 1:38 remaining that brought Tufts within 48-40. It was her three late in the game against Mary Washington that helped Tufts to the win. Miller's three at Messiah was followed by a turnover and missed free throw by the Falcons, and then a long-bomb three-pointer from junior Kim Moynihan (West Hartford, CT) and suddenly Tufts was within five points, 48-43, with 52 seconds to play. Two free throws by Falcon Amy Reed put the margin at seven (50-43) with 45 to go, but a three-point play by senior co-captain Khalilah Ummah (Litchfield, ME) kept Tufts within four points (50-46) with 31 seconds to go. Messiah continued to protect its lead by making free throws and led 53-46 with 21 seconds to play. Even then, Jumbo Rookie of the Year Colleen Hart (Needham, MA) drilled a three-pointer for a 53-49 score with 12 seconds to play. The Falcons got to the finish line with free throws and now will make their second NCAA "Final Four" appearance.

Tufts had made a statement with its 48-45 win over Mary Washington in the "Sweet 16" Friday night. The Eagles are the #5 team in the country whom many expected to make a return trip to the "Final Four." Again against Messiah, #4 in the D3Hoops poll, Tufts was equal to the task. The Jumbos had a brief 4-2 lead on a basket by Moynihan. Out of a 6-6 tie, Messiah scored seven straight including a three-pointer by Amy Reed. A lay-up by Tufts senior co-captain Jenna Gomez (Norfolk, MA) pulled Tufts to 13-10, but they were down eight at the half (21-13), Messiah closing with a 8-3 run. Lobach and Silalei Shani had six points at intermission for the Falcons. Tufts, which shot 5 for 19 (26.3 percent) during the first 20 minutes, was led by five points by Ummah.

Messiah's Ashley Brooks scored the first basket of the second half and it was a 10-point, 23-13 lead. Tufts scored the next six points on a three by Hart and a three-point play from Ummah to get to 23-19, but Messiah scored four straight points to go up by eight (27-19). Ummah and Tausanovitch kept the Jumbos close as the half wore on. Back-to-back baskets by Tausanovitch made it 27-25 as the game hit a back-and-forth pace. Baskets by Hart and Ummah also had Tufts within two, including 31-29 with 13:03 to play. Tufts got sloppy with six turnovers in the next six minutes, but was able to stay in the game with good defense forcing Messiah to struggle offensively as well. The Jumbos made it interesting until the end as their magnificent season ended proudly.

Ummah capped her career with 18 points, nine rebounds and three steals in the NCAA quarterfinals. She hit 6 of 8 field goals and 6 of 9 free throws. Hart had 14 points in 38 minutes and Tausanovitch added seven points and eight rebounds. The Jumbos turned the ball over 23 times total. Tufts finished with a 38-29 advantage in rebounds.

Lobach was the game-high scorer for Messiah, totaling 19 with an 11 for 14 effort at the line. Reed was a key to victory with nine points, five assists and three blocks. The Falcons were credited with 15 assists on 17 baskets. They out-scored Tufts with a 19 for 25 performance at the line compared to 7 for 10 from the visitors.

NCAA Div. III Tournament Bracket