Lord Jeffs Win NESCAC Opener on Another Swensen Buzzer Beater at Tufts

From a Tufts University Release

Sam Swensen made her second game-winner of the season at the buzzer this evening.

MEDFORD, MA – Sophomore Samantha Swensen (Rockaway Park, NY) beat the buzzer with a lay-up on a dramatic in-bounds play that gave Amherst College a 64-62 victory over Tufts University in a battle of nationally ranked and unbeaten NESCAC women’s basketball teams at Cousens Gym on Friday night.

With 2.4 seconds on the clock and the game tied at 62-62, Amherst’s Sarah Leyman (Cincinatti, OH) heaved an in-bounds pass from half-court towards Swensen near the basket. Tufts senior co-captain Khalilah Ummah (Litchfield, ME) made a valiant effort on the play, but Swensen got the ball and converted a lay-up for the victory. Amherst, ranked 22nd in the D3Hoops.com poll this week, improved to 15-0 overall. The Jumbos, #14 nationally, dropped to 12-1. It was the conference opener for both teams.

After a sloppy start, the game reached a frenzied level in front of a near-capacity crowd at Cousens. After the eighth tie of the game (55-55) with four minutes remaining, Tufts scored six of the next seven points to lead 61-56 on a lay-up by Ummah at 2:14. Senior tri-captain Anne-Claire Roesch (Westport, CT) hit a huge three-pointer on the Lord Jeffs’ next trip down the floor to make the score 61-59 Tufts.

The teams traded free throws, and then a lay-up by senior tri-captain Stefanie Reiff (Hinsdale, IL) tied the score for the ninth time at 62-62 with 30 seconds remaining. The Jumbos missed a shot, got the offensive rebound, but turned the ball over on a shot-clock violation, setting up the winning play.

A score of 4-4 five minutes into the game was not an indication of the excitement to come. Amherst turned that into a 13-4 advantage, and the visitors led by eight (26-18) after a lay-up by Swensen with three minutes to go in the half. Tufts scored the next eight points to tie the score at 26-26, and Amherst took a 28-26 lead into the locker room.

Roesch opened the half with a three-pointer for Amherst and a 31-26 lead. They went up by six (36-30) on a Swensen basket at 15:55. That would be the largest lead for either team the rest of the way. Tufts again spurted to tie it 36-36 on free throws by sophomore Julia Baily (Farmington, CT) at 14:48. The teams would be tied again at 48-48 before the Jumbos took their first lead of the game at 50-48 on a jumper by sophomore Casey Sullivan (Berlin, CT) with 6:50 left in the second half. The game went down to the last second dramatically from there.

Amherst, the second-ranked field goal shooting team in the nation playing against Tufts’ third-in-the-nation field goal defense, shot 52 percent for the game (26/50). They were remarkably consistent, hitting 13 of 25 shots in each half. Reiff hit 7 of 9 shots and led Amherst with 17 points. Swensen added 13 points and Roesch had 12. Senior tri-captain Shaina Pollack (Great Neck, NY) finished with seven points, five assists and three steals.

Ummah led the Jumbos with 18 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Fellow co-captain Jenna Gomez (Norfolk, MA) had 10 rebounds as the Jumbos earned a 37-25 advantage in that area. Junior Kim Moynihan (West Hartford, CT) was active with five points, five rebounds, six assists and three steals. Tufts did not make a three-pointer in the game for the first time since December 2006.