MEDFORD, Mass. -- In an epic NCAA championship second round matchup between a pair of 27-win teams, Tufts senoir tri-captain Liz Moynihan hit a desperation, line-drive 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer to give the Jumbos a 57-54 victory against New England on Saturday afternoon at Cousens Gym.
With the game tied at 54-54, UNE's Alicia Brown rebounded a Tufts free throw miss and the Nor'Easters had a chance to take the lead. However, after a time out, they turned the ball over on a shot-clock violation. With 4.6 seconds remaining in the overtime period, Hayley Kanner inbounded the ball to Moynihan at center court. She darted to the top of the three-point line and her hard shot went in for the dramatic victory.
Tufts (28-1) advances to the NCAA sectional round for the third consecutive season. In the Round of 16, the Jumbos will face the winner of the Plattsburgh-Castleton second-round game. The site of the sectional will be announced tomorrow.
UNE, led by a game-high 19 points from sophomore Meghan Gribbin, ends its season in heart-breaking fashion with a 27-3 mark.
The visiting Nor'Easters held a 48-44 lead with 2:48 remaining in regulation after a lay-up by Lauren Hayden. Kanner came up huge for the Jumbos down the stretch. Her drive to the hoop pulled Tufts within 46-48 with 1:37 left in the second half. She then swished two free throws with 30 seconds on the clock to tie the score at 48-48.
Like overtime, the Nor'Easters had the ball with a chance to take the lead in the closing seconds of regulation. With tight pressure in the lane, junior Kelly Coleman's shot was blocked by Kanner and the game went to overtime.
In the extra session, a pair of free throws by Coleman gave UNE a 52-51 advantage with 2:43 on the clock. A jumper by Gribbin put the Nor'Easters up 54-51 with 1:39 remaining. Two offensive rebounds by Kanner and Moynihan led to a three-pointer by junior Kelsey Morehead with 1:18 remaining in OT to tie the score at 54-54. That set up the dramatic conclusion.
Tufts scored the first eight points of the game, including a pair of jumpers by senior Ali Rocchi. The 8-0 lead would be the largest margin of the game. UNE responded with a 13-4 stretch featuring five points by Gribbin and four from Coleman to take a 13-12 lead with 6:40 to go until halftime. The Jumbos led 20-19 at intermission.
Three-pointers by senior tri-captain Caitlin McClure and Morehead gave Tufts a 26-21 advantage early in the second half. That would be the largest margin of the period. UNE came back to tie the score at 31-31 on a layup by Hayden. Over the next seven minutes, Tufts twice took four-point leads, including 41-37 following two free throws by Kanner with 8:44 on the clock. The Nor'Easters again had an answer, tying it at 41-41 with Coleman's 3-pointer.
A Gribbin 3-pointer put UNE up 44-43 at 6:30 and they would hold a slight advantage until Kanner scored the final four points of regulation to send the game to OT.
Kanner led the Jumbos with an impressive double-double of 16 points and 17 rebounds to go with five blocks. McClure chipped in with 10 points while Morehead added nine points, six assists and five rebounds. She played all 45 minutes. Tufts was +9 in rebounds (46-37) with first-year Michela North added eight to go with seven points.
Hayden had 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists for the Nor'Easters. Coleman finished with nine points, five rebounds and four assists.