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Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Taryn Miller-Stevens, third in NESCAC in assists, has had a strong senior season for the Jumbos

MEDFORD -- By virtue of its 8-1 finish during the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) season, the Tufts University women's basketball team earned the #2 seed in the conference tournament and will host #7 seed Middlebury College in the first round on Saturday (February 17) at 3:00 pm. The game is available live on JumboCast at

The Jumbos enter the post-season with a 16-7 record, the most wins by the team since its 18-6 finish three years ago in 2003-04. The 8-1 NESCAC mark is the team's best since the conference started playing a round robin schedule in the 2001-02 season. Tufts will host a first round game for just the second time in seven conference tournaments. They were the fourth seed in 2004 after a 7-2 conference record, but lost to Williams in the first round.

The Jumbos won big conference games this season against Bates (72-64), Wesleyan (60-58) and Williams (58-53). All three rivals had finished among the top four in NESCAC during both the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons. Those three teams joined Bowdoin as NCAA Tournament selections last season. The Jumbos also had good non-conference victories against Endicott, Western New England, Salem State and Worcester State this season.

All of Tufts' seven losses this season have come against teams with winning percentages well over 66.7 percent. Three of the defeats were against teams from Fitchburg State, Emmanuel and Bowdoin that have lost only once all season. The combined record of the seven teams who have defeated the Jumbos is 130-27, a remarkable .828 winning percentage.

The Jumbos have improved individually and as a group from last year, when they finished 10-13 overall and were 3-6 in the league. They were led in scoring this year by guard Valerie Krah (Mountain Lakes, NJ/Mountain Lakes) in her senior season with 14.2 points per game, which is seventh overall in the conference. She became the team's all-time leader in three-pointers this season and has 44 overall this year, fourth in the league. Her three-pointer with nine seconds left was the winning basketball against Wesleyan.

Senior point guard Taryn Miller-Stevens (Avon, CT/Avon) is having her best season, and enters the tournament third in NESCAC with 4.39 assists per game. Senior co-captains Laura Jasinski (Leverett, MA/Amherst) and Libby Park (Massena, NY/Massena Central) are a formidable duo in the frontcourt. Jasinski is averaging 6.8 ppg and 6.5 rpg, while Park is at 4.9 ppg and 5.2 rpg with 34 blocks that ranks her fifth in NESCAC. The Jumbos lead NESCAC in blocked shots with 114 and are second both with a +4.7 rebound margin and a .348 field goal percentage defense.

The 2006-07 season has also seen the emergence of juniors Khalilah Ummah (Litchfield, Me/Waynflete Academy) and Jenna Gomez (Norfolk, MA/Noble & Greenough) as key contributors. Ummah, a two-time NESCAC Player of the Week, is averaging 10.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Gomez is scoring 9.3 ppg while averaging 5.6 rebounds. She, Krah and Miller-Stevens are all among the NESCAC top seven in steals per game. Sophomore Kim Moynihan (West Hartford, CT/Hall) has also made great strides and is second on the team with 14 three-pointers to go with 5.5 ppg and 3.6 rpg.

Those seven players are averaging more than 18 minutes per game for Tufts, led by Miller-Stevens at 31.2 minutes per game and Jasinski at 30.2. Sophomore Stacy Filocco (Olney, MD/Good Counsel) and freshman Julia Baily (Farmington, CT/Miss Porter's School) have logged the most minutes among the other reserves.

The Jumbos clinched a home berth in the NESCAC Tournament with a 61-50 victory over Middlebury on February 2. Krah scored a career-high 21 points, breaking the team's career record for three-pointers in the process. Tufts stormed to a 26-6 lead in the first half and withstood a Middlebury comeback attempt in the second half to record the win.

Tufts has yet to win a game in the NESCAC Tournament, posting a 0-5 record. As the seventh seed in 2001, they lost to Colby 65-54 in the first round. After failing to qualify in 2002, they were the sixth seed in 2003 and lost to Bates in the first round, 80-59. The loss to Williams in 2004 was followed by a 61-37 loss at Bates as the seventh seed in 2005. Last year they were the seventh seed and lost at Bowdoin, 52-41.

The Panthers are making their sixth NESCAC Tournament appearance. They are 2-5 overall, falling in the first round three times, while advancing to the 2002 title game. Middlebury has also used the same starting five for all 24 games this season. Sophomore Emily Johnson is their leading scorer with 12.6 ppg. Junior Lani Young has been a force on the boards for the Panthers. She leads the team with 8.4 per game, putting her third among her NESCAC peers.