Western New England Falls to Tufts in Opening Round of NCAA Tournament, 70-44

Meghan Orbann recorded 12 points and seven rebounds in Western New England's NCAA Tournament loss to No. 4 Tufts on Friday. (Photo by Brandon Eckles)
Meghan Orbann recorded 12 points and seven rebounds in Western New England's NCAA Tournament loss to No. 4 Tufts on Friday. (Photo by Brandon Eckles)

Orbann leads Golden Bears with 12 points & seven rebounds

MEDFORD, Mass. (March 1, 2019) – Making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, the Western New England University women's basketball team put up a tough fight before falling to No. 4 nationally ranked Tufts University, 70-44, in first round action on Friday night at Cousens Gymnasium.

Tufts (26-2) advances to Saturday's second round to take on Haverford at 5 p.m. Western New England's season comes to a close at 20-9. 

Top Performers
Junior forward Meghan Orbann (East Hampton, Conn.) led the way for the Golden Bears with a team-high 12 points, seven rebounds, two steals and one assist.

Senior guard Meghan Gilhool (Montrose, Pa.) finished with nine points, four boards, two blocks and two assists in her final collegiate contest, while juniors Emily Farrell (New Fairfield, Conn.) and Sydney Fisher (Strafford, N.H.) added eight points each.

Tufts freshman guard Janette Wadolowski (Southington, Conn.) provided a spark off the bench for the Jumbos with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-7 shooting.

Senior guard Jac Knapp (Westfield, N.J.) paced the starting unit with 16 points and three steals, while junior Erica DeCandido (North Wales, Pa.) posted a double-double with 13 points and ten boards.

Game Review
Western New England scored the first points of the contest when Orbann pulled down an offensive rebound off her own miss and put back a layup just over a minute into the game.

Tufts answered with a 15-0 run over the next four minutes, however, before the Golden Bears snapped their scoring drought on a drive to the hoop by Gilhool with 4:09 left in the opening frame. The Jumbos held a 13-point advantage (23-10) after ten minutes of play.

Western New England fought its way back into the contest with a 10-2 spurt to start the second quarter, which was fueled by six points from Fisher and four from Gilhool.

The Golden Bears cut their deficit to five on two occasions in the second quarter, but Tufts stretched its lead back into double figures (36-25) late in the frame. On the final play of the half, Farrell got a floater to fall at the buzzer to bring Western New England back to within nine (36-27) at the break.

Western New England continued to battle early in the third, as the Golden Bears used a 5-2 run that culminated in a three-point play by Orbann to close the gap to six (38-32).

Tufts took control from there, however, scoring eight straight points to stretch its lead back into double figures (46-32). The Jumbos' advantage reached 20 (55-35) on a layup by Knapp with 2:06 on the clock, and freshman guard Molly Ryan (Westfield, N.J.) drained a triple in the final seconds of the frame to make it a 24-point game (60-36) heading into the fourth.

The Golden Bears were unable to cut into their deficit over the final ten minutes of play as Tufts continued to pull away late.

Notes
• Western New England was limited to 32.6% shooting, while Tufts connected at a 47.3% clip.
• The Jumbos outrebounded the Golden Bears 37-28 and held a 32-20 advantage in points in the paint.