Amherst's Defense Leads to 69-29 Win at Springfield

First-year Marcia Voigt scored a career-high 13 points.

SPRINGFIELD, MA – The 2nd-ranked Amherst College women’s basketball team closed out the 2009 portion of its schedule this evening with a non-conference road game against local rival Springfield College. Amherst outscored Springfield 34-12 in the second half to pull away for an impressive 69-29 win in the birthplace of basketball.

Amherst forced a Springfield timeout less than three minutes into the game by building a 10-5 lead on a layup by Kim Fiorentino (Holmdel, NJ). After a jumper by junior Jaci Daigneault (Guilford, CT), Fiorentino hit back-to-back three pointers before classmate Shannon Finucane (Cortland, NY) made a triple of her own. The flurry of points helped Amherst’s lead balloon to 21-9 by the 15-minute mark.

Just after the midpoint of the first half, Amherst’s lead hit 27-13 on a put-back by sophomore Lem Atanga McCormick (Chicago, IL). The Lord Jeffs did not score for over five minutes, but a free throw by Sarah Leyman (Cincinnati, OH) with 4:11 to play in the half put the lead at 28-15. Amherst’s next points came on a layup by first-year Marcia Voigt (Skillman, NJ) after taking a steal from inside her own half. On the next Lord Jeff possession, Voigt drained a three from the left wing.

At the break, Amherst held a 35-17 lead after dominating the boards on both ends of the floor. The Pride shot 42 percent from the floor to Amherst’s 39 percent, but the Lord Jeffs took 14 more shots during the frame due to a 20-13 edge in rebounds. Amherst pulled down 12 offensive rebounds, which led to a 10-2 edge in second-chance points. Fiorentino led Amherst with nine points and four boards, while Leyman scored six points to go along with eight rebounds. Kelly Murphy paced the Pride with nine points in the frame.

Amherst started the second half on a 13-2 run, capped by another steal and layup from sophomore Caroline Stedman (Walpole, MA) to force a Springfield timeout with 14:44 to play. At the time of the stoppage, Amherst held a 48-19 lead and looked primed to pull away for another large win. Sophomore Jackie Renner (Newton, MA) scored on a jumper from the right elbow to stretch Amherst’s lead past the 30-point mark with 10 minutes remaining in regulation.

The Lord Jeffs stretched their lead to 63-24 on a strong series of plays by first-years Voigt and Bridget Crowley (Hampden, MA). The duo combined for four straight scores while the Pride could not keep pace.

With 4.1 seconds to play, Springfield’s Kelly Slattery scored to leave the final score 69-29 in Amherst’s favor. The final points snapped a field goal drought of 14:19 for the Pride. Amherst’s defense was once again the story, as the Lord Jeffs caused 33 turnovers on the day, including 20 steals.

Voigt led the Lord Jeffs with a career-high 13 points and four steals, while Fiorentino added 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Leyman had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Stedman had 10 points and five steals. Amherst forced the Pride into 17 percent shooting in the second half, and just 30 percent for the night. Murphy finished the game with nine points to lead the Pride, as no Springfield player hit double digits.

The Lord Jeffs improved to 9-0 on the season with the win, and will break until a Dec. 30 home game against Lehman College. Springfield falls to 3-6 with the loss and will also break for vacation.