Lord Jeffs Blast Williams 75-51 on the Road

Jaci Daigneault tied a career-high with 23 points
in the win at Williams.

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The 2nd-ranked Amherst College women’s basketball team took a commanding lead in the 2010 Little Three standings this afternoon with a win at archrival Williams College in non-conference play. Amherst stretched a 33-23 halftime lead for a 75-51 win to remain undefeated and improve to 12-0 on the year. The loss dropped the Ephs to 10-4 on the year.

Amherst opened the game scoring the first seven points until a Lisa Jaris post score for the Ephs cut the Lord Jeff lead to 7-2. Amherst’s front line took over early, with junior tri-captain Jaci Daigneault (Guilford, CT) scoring seven points in the first five minutes to help the Jeffs extend the lead to 11-2. At the midpoint of the half, Amherst’s lead sat at 15-8 on a score by junior tri-captain Sarah Leyman (Cincinnati, OH).

With just under eight minutes to play in the first, Jennie Harding hit a three from the right wing for the Ephs to close the gap to 18-13. Amherst sophomore Shannon Finucane (Cortland, NY) answered with a banked runner, and after another Jaris score inside, Lem Atanga McCormick (Chicago, IL) dropped in a triple from the top of the key. After a steal by Leyman, Finucane found classmate Caroline Stedman (Walpole, MA) in the left corner for a three on the fast break. With the bucket, Amherst took a 26-15 lead with 4:57 remaining in the first half and forced Williams to call a timeout.

Amherst’s lead grew to 31-15 with three minutes remaining, but Eph first-year Grace Rehnquist knocked down a three on the left wing to close the deficit to 13 points. Williams closed to within single digits at 31-23 with less than a minute remaining, but a pair of Leyman free throws at the 27.8 mark stretched the lead back to 33-23. Williams looked to hold the ball for the final shot of the half, but was called for traveling and Amherst was unable to score in the final seconds.

At the half, Amherst was led by eight points from Stedman and seven points from Daigneault. Sophomore transfer Jackie Renner (Newton, MA) was solid in her introduction to this heated rivalry, scoring four points to go along with seven rebounds. The Ephs were led by Rehnquist’s 11 first-half points off the bench.

Once again, Amherst scored the first three baskets of the half in the second frame, forcing another timeout from Williams head coach Pat Manning at the 17:59 with the score 39-23 in the Jeffs’ favor. Coming out of the stoppage, Daigneault finished off a three point play the old fashioned way off a broken play. After Amherst started the half on a 13-4 run, Taylor Shea made a pair at the free throw line for the Ephs with 14:39 to play to stop the bleeding.

With 12:18 to play, Daigneault hauled down an offensive rebound and finished off another three-point play to put Amherst up 53-31. Amherst’s lead grew as large as 29 points at 66-37 as head coach G.P. Gromacki was able to play a lineup of four substitutes and two first-years against the Williams regulars down the stretch. Rookie Marcia Voigt (Skillman, NJ) and Bridget Crowley 9Hampden, MA) each performed well in front of a packed and hostile crowd at Chandler Gymnasium.

Voigt was able to dribble out the clock for Amherst, as the final score rang in at 75-51. Daigneault finished with a season and game-high 23 points and nine rebounds. The 23 points tied her career-high that she set for the first time one year ago against Williams. Stedman, Renner and Leyman each hit double-digits for Amherst, and combined for 33 points and 23 boards. Rehnquist was the only Eph to hit double-digits with 14 points.

Amherst will have just two days before traveling to face Clark University on Monday night at 7:00 p.m.