Jeffs Open NESCAC Play with 89-49 Win Over Wesleyan

Rookie Marcia Voigt scored 12 points for Amherst in
her NESCAC debut.

AMHERST, MA – The 2nd-ranked Amherst College women’s basketball team opened up NESCAC play this evening with a convincing 89-49 win over Wesleyan University at home. The Lord Jeffs remain undefeated at 14-0 (1-0 NESCAC), while the Cardinals drop to 6-7 (0-1 NESCAC).

Amherst's 17th consecutive win at LeFrak Gymnasium marks the second longest home winning streak in program history. The longest such streak is 25 games, which began during the 2007-08 season and ended last year with a loss to Bowdoin College. The Jeffs are also approaching the longest overall winning streak in their history (18), which was set last year when Amherst got off to an 18-0 start.

Friday's win also improved Amherst's Jaci Daigneault '11 (Guilford, CT), Sarah Leyman '11 (Cincinnati, OH), Courtney Long '11 (Norwich, CT) and Kristyn Dunleavy '11 (East Setauket, NY) to 70-7 as a group, making them only the second class in program history to record at least 70 wins. Only the Class of 2009 (78) earned more victories during its time at Amherst.

During the first seven minutes of action Amherst got scores from four of its five starters to open up a 13-2 lead. One minute later, the Lord Jeff lead hit 17-4 on back-to-back jumpers from Jackie Renner (Newton, MA), before sophomore Caroline Stedman (Walpole, MA) buried a triple from the right wing. With just under 11 minutes to play in the first half, Amherst’s lead grew to 23-4 when Shannon Finucane (Cortland, NY) picked a Wesleyan player’s pocket on the defensive end, and then rained in a three on the ensuing possession.

With 7:30 to play in the frame, Stedman made her third three of the first half, stretching the Amherst lead to 31-9. On the next Amherst possession, Stedman found first-year Marcia Voigt (Skillman, NJ) in the right corner with a nice dish off a drive for the Lord Jeffs’ sixth three pointer of the half.

Amherst’s lead grew to 31 points with over five minutes to play in the half, but Wesleyan responded with a 12-5 run over the next three minutes. During the stretch, McKinley Tennant scored seven points for the Cardinals. The Lord Jeffs answered right back, closing out the first half with strong play by Voigt and Lem Atanga McCormick (Chicago, IL).

At the break, Amherst held a 51-23 lead with four players having scored eight or more points. Stedman led all players with 11 points, while Voigt was close behind with 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting from the field. Finucane and Atanga McCormick each added eight points for Amherst, while Tennant led the Cardinals with eight points.

The Cardinals hung with Amherst during the first seven minutes of the half, as the Lord Jeffs were only able to add three points to their halftime advantage. With 12:37 remaining, Finucane turned momentum back in Amherst’s favor with a rare four-point play.  Just minutes later at the 9:34 mark, Amherst’s lead hit 40 points at 74-34 on a Voigt drive and score.

Wesleyan scored 10 points in the first six minutes of the second half, but scored just two points over the next 10 minutes of play. A jumper by Melanie Ferdinand at the 6:44 mark helped end the Wesleyan drought.

Down the stretch, Amherst used a balanced attack to cruise to the 89-49 win. The Lord Jeffs had five players hit double-digits in points, with another three scoring more than seven points. Stedman scored a game-high 14 points, while Finucane, Voigt, Atanga McCormick and Leyman each scored in double figures as well. Wesleyan sophomore Ali Newman scored eight points in the second half to finish with 10 as the only Cardinal in double digits.  Amherst finished the night shooting a blazing 61 percent from behind the arc.

Amherst will return to action Saturday against Connecticut College at 2 p.m., while Wesleyan will travel to face Trinity College.