INDIANAPOLIS — Tufts wasn't going to let Thomas More superstar Sydney Moss beat them single-handedly, so everybody else had to step up for the top-ranked Saints.
And they did. They won their second straight national championship, and they proved they weren't just the Sydney Moss Show.
"We are going to take everybody's best shots, we know that," said coach Jeff Hans. "Our players and our guys rose to the challenge every time."
With multiple defenders harassing Moss, Abby Owings led four scorers in double figures with 17 points and Thomas More fought off a challenge to beat No. 7 Tufts 63-51 Monday night in the NCAA Division III final at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Thomas More to celebrate Wednesday
An informal celebration for the Saints will be held at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday outside the Connor Convocation Center on the campus, the college announced. This will give the community an opportunity to welcome the team home. A formal celebration will occur later in April.
Moss, the three-time Division III Player of the Year, still managed to add 14 points and nine rebounds for the Saints, who completed their second straight 33-0 season.
But Moss' teammates went on a 14-2 run while the star was on the bench.
Nikki Kiernan added 13 points and nine rebounds and Madison Temple had 10 points and nine rebounds. Olivia Huber had eight rebounds.
— NCAA (@NCAA) April 4, 2016
The game was tied at 49 with just 6 ½ minutes left. But a steal and fast-break layup by Moss put the Saints back on top, sparking a decisive 10-0 run.
SEE the box score
Toward the end of the game, the Thomas More fans began chanting, “We want UConn.”
Michela North had 10 points and 15 rebounds to lead Tufts (28-4), which was looking for its first national title.
Tufts gave the Saints all they could handle.
Thomas More hit just three of its first 15 shots and the Jumbos, using their signature stifling defense, jumped out to a 17-11 lead after a quarter.
"We would have liked to have pushed that, but they kind of crawled their way back, kept scoring," said North. "We couldn't really get a stop for a while and they'd just go on runs. They are an emotional team."
The game was played at Tufts' pace. Thomas More led just 32-26 at the half. The Jumbos have the second best defense in Division III and give up an average of about 44 points a game.
The Saints, who average 92 points a game, normally shoot almost 50 percent from the field. They were held to 36 percent in this one.
Moss hit just four of her 14 shots.
It was the Saints defense that made the difference late. They forced three turnovers and four missed shots during the final half of the fourth quarter.
"I think we all just had that look in our eyes, like, 'OK it's time to buckle down and get stops on defense and make plays on offense for each other, and obviously we did that," Moss said.
Moss was named the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and Owings was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Kelly McDonald won the Elite 90 award, which is presented to the student-athlete in the championship game who has the highest grade point average.