The women’s basketball season came to a close this Saturday, Feb. 22 in Medford, Mass., with the eighth-seeded Cardinals (12-12, 3-7 NESCAC) losing big, 74-46, to top-seeded Tufts (24-1, 10-0 NESCAC) in the opening round of the conference tournament. The 28-point loss was the most lopsided of the season for the Cardinals, who finished on a six-game losing streak.
Wesleyan played the Jumbos extremely close for the first 10 minutes of the first half, taking its first and only lead of the game 5-4 at the 15:16 mark on a three-pointer by Jackie Browne ’16. At the midpoint of the first half, the Cardinals were still hanging tough, trailing only 12-7. But the talented Tufts players took over, going on an 18-10 run to finish the first period. The Jumbos held a 30-17 lead at halftime.
The Cardinals started the second half strong, scoring on their opening possession on a short jumper in the paint by Captain Jenna Klaes ’14 to bring the deficit to 11. However, Wesleyan would not get any closer for the rest of the contest. Tufts showed why it is the sixth-ranked team in Division III, going on a 25-11 run to stretch its lead to 55-30 halfway through the second period, highlighted by a 10-0 run that started at the 15:10 mark and ended at the 13:02 mark on a layup by Captain KellyAnn Rooney ’14.
There were still 10 minutes remaining in the game, but for all intents and purposes, this one was over. The 25-point mountain was too tall to climb for the Cards, and Tufts controlled the tempo for the rest of the game.
Despite the loss, Head Coach Kate Mullen was proud of her team’s effort.
“I thought the team competed as hard as any game we’ve played in this season and certainly didn’t back down,” Mullen wrote in an email to The Argus.
The 74 points scored by Tufts were the second-most points allowed by Wesleyan this season. The Cardinals struggled with the dimes and on the boards, setting their season lows for assists (2) and tying their season low in rebounds (22). Klaes paced Wesleyan’s offense, netting 12 points.
Klaes reflected on the Cardinals’ 2013-14 season.
“I am most proud of my team’s ability to become more of a cohesive unit as the season progressed,” Klaes wrote in an email to The Argus. “Of my four years here, this team has had the best chemistry on and off the court. I think the team has great potential to continue to build and be successful specifically next year with all of the talent and chemistry we have finished this current season with. I look forward to keeping my eyes on their achievements next season and giving them all of my support.”
For Klaes and two other senior captains, Amber Wessells and Rooney, it was their final game as Wesleyan Cardinals.
“I will most miss the program itself and all of the people involved, like my fellow teammates and the entire coaching staff,” Klaes wrote. “I can’t believe I won’t be spending every day and many hours with these people again playing basketball.”
The Cardinals will now look forward to the 2014-15 season. With 4 rising seniors and 11 returning letter winners, Wesleyan figures to have a more experienced, veteran squad next year.
“Moving forward, we’ll look for our returnees to continue to improve their individual skills and to get stronger,” Mullen wrote. “As a team, though we’re taking enough shots, the number of points scored and our field-goal percentage to get those points needs to increase.”
Jess Cherenza ’15, who averaged the third-most minutes played on the team (28.5) and the most rebounds per game (5.9), will be one of the keys to the Cardinals’ success next season.
“It’s always a challenge to lose key teammates as they graduate, but I look forward to carrying on their legacy of success,” Cherenza wrote in an email to The Argus. “Next season we’ll need to concentrate on offensive execution and maintaining focus in close games. I believe that if we learn from our mistakes this past season we’ll only progress and become more successful as a team.”