Middlebury hung with top-ranked Tufts in the first quarter, but an 11-0 second-quarter run for the Jumbos propelled the visitors to a 54-38 NESCAC victory on Friday evening in Pepin Gymnasium. Middlebury (10-3, 2-1) returns to the court on Saturday when it hosts Bates at 3:00 p.m., while Tufts (14-0, 3-0) takes on Hamilton at the same time.
Middlebury eased out to a 6-4 lead on a basket from Lily Kuntz with 3:47 left. The Jumbos tallied the next 10 points over a span of 2:21 for a 14-6 advantage, capped off by a three-point field goal from Lauren Dillon. Sabrina Weeks knocked down a three for the hosts, giving Tufts a 14-9 edge after one quarter.
In the second quarter with the Jumbos in front by four (16-12) with 7:25 remaining, the visitors rattled off an 11-0 run for a 27-12 lead with 3:27 remaining until halftime. Five different players scored during the spurt, including a corner three from Baptista as the Jumbos took a 29-16 edge into the break.
The visitors opened an 18-point lead (40-22) in the third quarter on a jumper from Erica DeCandido at the 4:29 mark. The Panther scored the next four points on a pair of layups by Catherine Harrison and pulled to within 14 (40-26) with 1:52 left in the period. Baptista hit a late three for the Jumbos, putting Tufts up by 17 heading into the fourth.
The Jumbos maintained nearly a 20-point lead over much of the final quarter, as a pair of free throws from Sadie Otley made the score 51-31 with 4:35 left. The Panthers tallied the next seven points on a Kira Waldman jumper, a three from Colleen Caveney and a layup by Harrison, cutting the lead to 13 (51-38) with 1:46 left. A three from Tufts' Katie Martensen with less than a minute to go gave Tufts the 16-point win.
Harrison led the Panthers with 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for her third double-double of the season and 13th of her career, while Kaufman netted 10.
Tufts was paced by Michela North's 12 points to go with three blocked shots, while Baptista also finished in double figures with 11 points and a game-high five blocks. Dillon handed out a game-best six assists, while Jacqueline Knapp tallied six steals.