Saturday, April 4th, 2020

Thomas More defeats Tufts 63-51 to repeat as NCAA DIII champions

Published on April 4, 2016

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The Thomas More Saints celebrate their second consecutive NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament national championship after defeating Tufts, 63-51, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Monday evening. Photo © Lee Michaelson, all rights reserved.

The Thomas More Saints celebrate their second consecutive NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament national championship after defeating Tufts, 63-51, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Monday evening. Photo © Lee Michaelson, all rights reserved.

INDIANAPOLIS — Thomas More (33-0) defeated Tufts 63-51 to repeat as NCAA DIII women’s basketball champions Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Led by D3 All-American Abby Owings and three-time national player of the year, Sydney Moss, the Saints held off a late-game rally by the Jumbos.

“What a game. Good game,” Thomas More head coach Jeff Hans said to open up his postgame press conference. “I don’t know if it was entirely well played by either one of us. But to be on this stage and to be able to come out with a hard-fought victory over a very good and well-coached team, just so proud of our players and the resilience that they showed when the game got tied late third quarter, early fourth, the stop, run out to the lead. ”

Tufts (28-4) had the support of ten-time DI champions UConn in the stands as the head coach of the school from Medford, Massachusetts, Carla Berube, is a former player for the heralded Huskies. Berube was a member of the UConn’s 1995 championship team.

However, on the court, the Saints reigned and after trailing by six after the first quarter, 17-11, roared back to outscore the Jumbos 21-9 in the last ten minutes before the half. The two teams had a nearly even third quarter but in the last ten minutes, Thomas More pulled away with a 16-9 scoring spurt.

Ownings paced the Saints with 17 points while Moss finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Nikki Kiernan was also in double figures with 13 points along with nine rebounds. Madison Temple scored 10 points and pulled down nine rebounds.

Hans appreciated the effort from multiple players: ” I thought that everybody that got in helped in some way.”

For Berube, it was the balanced effort of Thomas More down the stretch that sealed the game for her team’s opponent.

“They’ve got big-time players, and I think it was some of their so-called non-stars that really shined,” Berube said. “Temple had a great game. Kiernan had a great game. And they were tough defensively. Made everything really hard for us.”

She was proud of her team’s effort even with the loss.

“I think my team battled. We didn’t give up.”

Michela North had a double-double for Tufts with 10 points and 15 rebounds. She was only player for the Jumbos in double figures.

Notes:

The NCAA’s Division III has a partnership with the Special Olympics. They presented a check in excess of $20,000 to the Special Olympics on the court, pledged an additional donation of $1 for every new Twitter follow of Division III during the game, and had a team of Special Olympians assist in handing out the trophies, which were presented to both teams.

The band and crowd were chanting, “We want UConn,” and “Bring on Geno,” as the clock wound down on the victory.


 

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