Tufts tabs Pace as new Head Women’s Basketball Coach

Jill Pace, a former assistant coach at Tufts who has been the head coach at Pomona-Pitzer since 2016, has been hired as the next head coach of the Jumbo women’s basketball team.

Pace was an assistant coach under former Tufts head coach Carla Berube for two seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16. The Jumbos advanced to the NCAA “Final Four” in both years, including playing in the NCAA Championship Game in 2016. The 2014-15 team won the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) title. Pace was then hired at Pomona-Pitzer where she led the team to 22 wins and a conference championship this past year.

Pace now returns to the Jumbos to succeed Berube, who left Tufts earlier this month to accept the head coaching position at Princeton University.

A 2012 graduate of Bowdoin College, Pace’s playing and coaching experience in the NESCAC, combined with the remarkable job she did turning the program around at Pomona-Pitzer, helped earn her the opportunity to become the eighth head coach in the 48-year history of the Tufts program.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Jill back to Medford and the Tufts Athletics family,” Director of Athletics John Morris said. “Both as a student-athlete and as a coach, Jill is known for hard work, high standards, values that align fully with our university mission, and winning. Jill will recruit and develop student-athletes who excel academically and in the community, and we have every confidence that she will advance and build upon the legacy of sustained excellence that has characterized Jumbo women’s basketball for so many years. We’re excited to watch Jill put her own imprint on the Tufts women’s basketball program, and we can’t wait for her to get started.”

When Pace was hired at Pomona-Pitzer in the summer of 2016, she inherited a young team that posted a 1-23 record in her first season. The Sagehens improved to 8-17 for 2017-18 and then had a historic season this past winter, finishing 22-6 including 14-2 in the league. The team won the program’s first-ever Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) championship and posted 20 or more victories for the first time since 1991. Directing the team to its first NCAA appearance since 2002, Pace was named SCIAC Coach of the Year and D3hoops.com West Region Coach of the Year. Two of Pace’s recruits earned D3hoops.com West Region Rookie of the Year honors during her three years at the helm.

While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in sociology and gender and women’s studies at Bowdoin, Pace played on teams that earned NCAA Tournament berths all four years and she was also a part of the 2009 NESCAC Championship team. A captain of the 2011-12 Polar Bears, Pace is 12th on the all-time scoring list with 1,085 points. The 485 points she scored as a senior are the fifth-most in a single season in Bowdoin history. Her .832 free throw percentage is second on the Bowdoin career list and she is also one of the top three-point shooters in team history. A Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Honorable Mention All-American as a senior, Pace was also a NESCAC All-Academic honoree and a three-time All-NESCAC selection during her Bowdoin career.

Originally from Bath, Maine, Pace got her start in coaching at Smith College in 2013-14 where she helped the Pioneers earn their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance and first-ever NCAA win. She also received a master’s degree from Smith in exercise and sport studies.

“I want to thank John Morris and Alexis Mastronardi for entrusting me with the leadership of the Tufts Women’s Basketball program, a program with such rich tradition at an institution that shares my values,” Pace said. “Coach Berube – an incredible coach and one of the best people I know – developed and sustained something very special at Tufts. I am excited to build on what she started, compete at the highest level possible, and have a lot of fun along the way. I also want to extend a heartfelt thank you to my players and alums at Pomona-Pitzer for believing in me and my vision, and for their dedication to the program. And a thank you to the entire Pomona-Pitzer community for their support.
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