Jill Pace Named New Women’s Basketball Head Coach

As head coach of Pomona-Pitzer, Pace led her team to its first NCAA berth in seventeen years
Jill Pace talks with a Pomona-Pitzer basketball player during a game. Pace was named new head coach for the Tufts women’s basketball team
Jill Pace, who was assistant coach of the Tufts women’s basketball team for two years, led Pomona-Pitzer in three years from 1-23 to last season’s 22-6 record. Photo: Pomona-Pitzer Athletics
June 27, 2019

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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 Division III 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 twenty-two 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 forty-eight-year history of the Tufts program.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Jill back to Medford and the Tufts Athletics family,” said Director of Athletics John Morris. “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 twenty 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 twelfth 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.”

“I’m so thrilled that Jill Pace has been named the next women’s basketball coach at Tufts University,” said Berube. “Jill has shown in her time at Smith, Tufts, and at Pomona-Pitzer that she is a successful leader of young women. She’s extremely bright and thoughtful, a diligent worker and recruiter and has a contagious competitive fire that the Jumbos will love to play for. I’m excited to watch the Jumbos under the direction of Jill Pace, it’s a great day for Tufts University.”

“I’ve watched Jill be successful at everything she’s done since she was eight years old at camp,” said Stefanie Pemper, head coach of the women’s basketball team at the US Naval Academy. “She loves the game and she loves to win, and more importantly, she knows how to get young women on her page. She worked her tail off to put Pomona on the map and I couldn’t be happier for her to return to the NESCAC as a leader in Tufts athletics.”

Paul Sweeney, director of Athletic Communications, can be reached at paul.sweeney@tufts.edu.