Top-Seeded Basketball Teams Set to Make Championship Runs This Weekend

From a NESCAC Release

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College men’s and women’s basketball teams resume their respective 2008 NESCAC Championship Tournaments in this Saturday’s semifinal action at LeFrak Gymnasium, marking the first time a NESCAC school has hosted both the men’s and women’s semifinal and final rounds. The Amherst women are scheduled to take on Bowdoin at noon, with the Amherst men hosting Bowdoin at 6 p.m. All men's and women's semifinal and final games can be watched live online courtesy of D3cast and will have live statistics available.

NESCAC Women's LogoWomen’s Basketball
The 2008 NESCAC Women’s Basketball Championship semifinal action begins Saturday, Mar. 1 at 12 p.m. with top-seeded Amherst (23-2, 7-2 NESCAC) hosting fourth-seeded Bowdoin (18-7, 6-3 NESCAC), which will be immediately followed by second-seeded Tufts (22-2, 7-2 NESCAC) squaring off with third-seeded Wesleyan (17-8, 6-3 NESCAC). The tournament concludes on Sunday, Mar. 2 with the title game set for 12 p.m. Tickets for Saturday’s women’s semifinals and Sunday’s women’s championship are $5 for adults and $2 for children and students. Fans unable to attend this weekend’s action will be able to follow all three games live via the Internet on D3Cast.com.
 
In the midst of the best season in team history, Amherst finished the regular season tied atop the NESCAC standings with Tufts, earning the number-one seed by holding the head-to-head tie-breaker thanks to a thrilling 64-62 win over the Jumbos. Amherst stormed out of the gate to start the 2007-08 season, winning a program-record 17-straight games before being derailed at rival Williams on Jan. 26 by a 64-59 score. The Jeffs only other loss this year also came on the road, as they suffered a 72-61 setback to their semifinal opponent, Bowdoin, on Feb. 2 in the lone regular season meeting between the two teams.

This marks the third time in tournament history Amherst has reached the round of four (2001, 2005), as the Jeffs rolled past Colby 83-53 in the quarterfinals. Amherst ranks at or near the top of most statistical categories in the league this season. The Jeffs’ offense leads the NESCAC with an average 75.0 points per game - nearly a full 15 points more than last year - while also shooting a conference-best 46.2 percent from the floor. Defensively, Amherst has allowed on average 53.4 points (2nd NESCAC) and held opponents to 36.3 percent shooting (3rd).

Scoring has been a committee effort this season, as nine different players have led Amherst over 25 games. Senior forward Stefanie Reiff (Hinsdale, IL) paces the Jeffs in scoring for the second-straight year, averaging 12.5 points while shooting a career-best 51.3 percent from the floor. Senior guard Shaina Pollack (Great Neck, NY) and sophomore forward Samantha Swensen (Rockaway Park, NY) are tied for second on the Jeffs’ roster behind Reiff, both averaging 10.5 points per game. Pollack has also contributed 5.0 assists, third among all conference players this season, while Swensen, the 2007 NESCAC Rookie of the Year, ranks third in the NESCAC in shooting percentage at 52.7. A win over Bowdoin would mark the highest season-win total in the history of Amherst women’s basketball.

2008 NESCAC WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Quarterfinals - Saturday, February 23
No. 8 Colby 53 at No. 1 Amherst 83
No. 7 Middlebury 60 at No. 2 Tufts 71
No. 6 Williams 49 at No. 3 Wesleyan 68
No. 5 Bates 51 at No. 4 Bowdoin 55
Semifinals - Saturday, March 1 at Amherst
No. 4 Bowdoin vs. No. 1 Amherst – 12 p.m.
No. 3 Wesleyan vs. No. 2 Tufts – 2 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, March 2 at Amherst 
Semifinal winners - 12 p.m.


NESCAC Men's LogoMen’s Basketball
Amherst will look to claim its fifth NESCAC crown in program history this weekend when the Lord Jeffs host the semifinals and final of the 2008 NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship at LeFrak Gymnasium. The action begins Saturday evening with top-seeded Amherst (23-2, 9-0 NESCAC) facing fourth-seeded Bowdoin (20-5, 6-3 NESCAC) at 6 p.m., followed by third-seeded Middlebury (19-6, 6-3 NESCAC) battling second-seeded Trinity (19-6, 6-3 NESCAC) at 8 p.m. The tournament wraps up on Sunday afternoon with the title tilt taking place at 2:30 p.m. Tickets for Saturday’s men’s semifinals and Sunday’s men’s championship are $5 for adults and $2 for students. Fans unable to attend this weekend’s action will be able to follow all three games live via the Internet on D3Cast.com.
 
Amherst completed a perfect conference slate for the first time since the 2004-05 season, as the Lord Jeffs came away with a 69-58 win over Trinity in the finale for both teams on Feb. 16. Amherst has lost only two games during the 2007-08 campaign and only one to a Division III opponent, falling at Brandeis by a 72-62 score on Dec. 8. Since suffering an 86-79 loss at NAIA member Florida Memorial, the Jeffs have gone on to win their last 16 games, out-scoring their opponents by an average of nearly 14 points.

Depth has been one of the trademarks of the Lord Jeffs during their championship runs, and this year has been no different. Five players average double-figures in scoring for Amherst. Senior forward Fletcher Walters (Ann Arbor, MI) leads the way with 14.2 points per game to rank seventh among all NESCAC players. Senior Brandon Jones (Hopatcong, NJ) and junior Brian Baskauskas (Palo Alto, CA) are tied for second on the Jeffs’ squad with 12.0 points per game, as Baskauskas has been deadly from beyond the arc this season, hitting a league-leading 53.2 percent of his three-point attempts. Senior guard Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA), the 2007 NESCAC Player of the Year, paces the conference in assists with 6.96 per game to go along with 11.6 points and an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.0.
 
Amherst leads the NESCAC in offense this season, scoring on average 82.0 points per game and hitting 52.7 percent of its shots, but its high-powered offense will be put to the test on Saturday when the Jeffs face the NESCAC’s best defense in the form of Bowdoin. Amherst earned an 85-79 victory over Bowdoin at LeFrak during the regular season, a game in which the Jeffs led by 17 with just five minutes remaining in regulation.

2008 NESCAC MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Quarterfinals - Saturday, Feb. 23 at Higher Seeds
No. 8 Colby 69 at No. 1 Amherst 86
No. 7 Connecticut College 60 at No. 2 Trinity 69
No. 6 Williams 59 at No. 3 Middlebury 96
No. 5 Bates 50 at No. 4 Bowdoin 83
Semifinals - Saturday, March 1 at Amherst 
No. 4 Bowdoin vs. No. 1 Amherst – 6 p.m.
No. 3 Middlebury vs. No. 2 Trinity – 8 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, March 2 at Amherst
Semifinal winners – 2:30 p.m.