The women’s basketball team made their final road trip of the season on Saturday, Feb. 20. The Panthers travelled to Medford, Mass. to take on top seeded Tufts in the NESCAC Quarterfinal playoff round. As the top seed in the NESCAC tournament, the Jumbos entered with a dominant 21-2 record, highlighted by an undefeated 10-0 NESCAC campaign. The score was 31-19 coming out of the halftime break, and a dominant 26-6 third quarter by Tufts ultimately did the Panthers in.
The Panthers were paced by Sarah Kaufman ’18 with 10 points and Eileen Daley ’18 with eight points and 11 rebounds, both of whom finished their sophomore campaigns strongly.
With this loss, the Panthers fell to 12-13 on the season, including a 3-7 in-conference mark. This was the first year since 2007-2008 that Middlebury made consecutive appearances in the NESCAC playoff tournament.
The future looks bright for the Panthers. The team’s lone junior, Elizabeth Knox ’17, is the most seasoned player currently on the roster, but she was lost for the season to an injury. That left the team to rely on underclassmen for the duration of the year.
First-year Catherine Harrison ’19 had an outstanding opening year as she averaged a double-double with 11.3 points and 11 rebounds per game, garnering two NESCAC player of the week accolades and also surely in the running for All-NESCAC honors. Kaufman led the Panthers with 14.7 points-per-game, while adding 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Daley started all 25 games for the Panthers, averaging 34 minutes-per-game. Colleen Caveney ’19 also came on strongly at the end of the season and averaged 7.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
Middlebury will have the same core group of players for the next two to three years, allowing them lots of time to work as a unit and develop. Some of their highlights on the year included a 76-59 win over Wesleyan and a close five-point win on the road against Bates that clinched the team’s spot in the conference tournament. Looking to the future, Middlebury will have a long but hopeful off-season as they work to qualify for NESCACs for the third year in a row.
“Since we are such a young team we are all really excited for next year because no one is graduating,” Harrison said. “We are returning with everyone extremely invested and everyone already knowing their position and role on the team.”