Jeffs Come from Behind for Crucial 65-56 Win at Tufts

Jackie Renner '12 scored 13 of her team-high 16 points in the second half.

Courtesy of Tufts University

MEDFORD, MA – The top-ranked Amherst College women’s basketball team overcame a six-point halftime deficit and improved to 21-0 (7-0 NESCAC) with a 65-56 win at 10th-ranked Tufts University (19-3, 6-2 NESCAC) Saturday afternoon at Cousens Gymnasium. The Lord Jeffs added to the longest winning streak in program history and clinched a home game in the upcoming NESCAC Championship quarterfinal round.

Playing in its sixth consecutive road game, Amherst scored a season-low 22 points in the first half thanks to a 1-for-9 performance from behind the arc. The Lord Jeffs got a second-half boost from Jackie Renner (Newton, MA), who scored 13 of her career-high 16 points in the final 20 minutes. Sophomore Caroline Stedman (Walpole, MA) also scored 13 of her 16 points in the second frame, as she and Renner combined for 13 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals. Junior tri-captain Sarah Leyman (Cincinnati, OH) added 14 points and 10 rebounds overall to the Amherst effort.

Junior Colleen Hart had 11 of her game-high 19 points in the first half to help the Jumbos take a 28-22 lead into the break. Senior Julia Baily scored 18 points with 13 rebounds in the game, while sophomore Tiffany Kornegay added 11 points for the hosts.

Amherst took a 17-12 lead on a lay-up by junior Jaci Daigneault (Guilford, CT) 10 minutes into the game, but the Jumbos finished the first half with a 16-5 run. Baily had six points during the stretch. Tufts out-rebounded the Lord Jeffs, 24-17, in the first half.

The Jumbos were in front by eight points at 36-28 following two free throws by sophomore Kate Barnosky at 15:29 of the second half, but the Lord Jeffs soon heated up from three-point territory. Two threes by Stedman during a three-minute Amherst run of 12-4 gave the visitors their first lead (42-40) since the nine-minute mark of the first half. With another trifecta by first-year Marcia Voigt (Skillman, NJ), Amherst had a lead (45-42) that it would not relinquish.

An 8-0 Amherst spurt consisting of five points by Renner and three from Stedman opened up a 53-44 margin for the Jeffs at 5:22. The Jumbos twice pulled within four points, including 55-51 on Baily’s lay-up with 4:08 remaining in the second half. However, Amherst continued to make baskets and free throws when it needed to and put away the Jumbos.

Amherst was up big in a trio of specialty statistics during the second half, out-scoring Tufts 22-8 in the paint, 12-2 off turnovers, and 14-4 on second-chance points. The Lord Jeffs, who finished at 40.9 percent shooting (27-for-66), won their fifth straight game in a growing rivalry between the programs. Voigt (nine points, five rebounds) and Daigneault (eight points, six rebounds) helped the Amherst cause.

Tufts earned a slight 41-40 edge in rebounds, with Barnosky pulling down nine. The Jumbos made just 20 of 59 shots for a 33.9 percentage.

Amherst held on to sole possession of first place in the NESCAC standings, joining Williams College (6-1 NESCAC) as the only teams with fewer than two conference losses. The Lord Jeffs will close out their seven-game road trip Tuesday, Feb. 9, when they travel to take on Bridgewater State College at 6 p.m.