Tufts, Mighty Moss head to Indy

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Tufts' defense shut out Wartburg in the first quarter and shut down the Knights when they needed fourth quarter stops.
Photo by Eric Kelley, d3photography.com

Tufts' defense and Sydney Moss' offense powered the Jumbos and Thomas More to victories in the national semifinals in Columbus, Ohio and a championship matchup in Indianapolis in early April.

In the first semifinal Tufts held Wartburg scoreless in the first period and pulled away from the Knights midway through the fourth for the Jumbos' first win in three trips to the Final Four, 63-50.

The Knights did not score until two minutes into the second quarter when they were down 14, but they chipped away at the Jumbos' lead and pulled within four points with five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Just as Tufts did in the sectional finals, the Jumbos called a 30-second timeout, regrouped and ran off a game-clinching run. This time the run was keyed by Lauren Dillon's three pointer coming out of the time out and then extended by back-to-back baskets by Michela North.

Dillon scored 19 points for Tufts (28-3) while Melissa Baptista tallied 14 points, 12 rebounds, five steals and four blocks. North also notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Morgan Neuendorf scored 16 points off the Wartburg bench and Aryn Jones added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Knights (23-8). Tufts' victory also brought head coach Carla Berube to the 300 win milestone in her career.

Sydney Moss scored 29 points in the second half and Thomas More pushed past Amherst 74-65.
Photo by Eric Kelley, d3photography.com 

In the second semifinal, Sydney Moss scored 29 of her 39 points in the second half as Thomas More battled past Amherst, 74-65. Amherst briefly grabbed the lead midway through the third quarter before Moss went to work. She scored 11 points in the first couple minutes of the fourth quarter, using a mix of power moves in the post and deep three-pointers. Amherst pulled within six with two minutes to play, but Moss caught an air-balled three and laid it in, extending the lead back to eight.

Nikki Kiernan added 13 points and carried the load offensively during a key stretch in the second quarter when Moss sat with two fouls and the Saints extended their lead. Amherst put four players in double figures, led by Hannah Hackley's 19 points and 10 rebounds. The Doswell twins, Meredith and Ali, scored 16 and 13 points respectively.

Amherst is the first Division III team to finish a game within single-digits of Thomas More this season. Cabrini and Cumberlands, an NAIA program in Kentucky, are the only other teams to lose to Thomas More by less than 10 points since the Saints started their 65-game winning streak.

Thomas More and Tufts will play for the national championship on Monday, April 4 in Indianapolis at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Saints defeated the Jumbos 62-52 in the national semifinals last season.