Lord Jeffs Drop First Game of Season with 64-59 Loss at Williams

Sarah Leyman
First-year Sarah Leyman scored 15 points and had 10 rebounds in the loss.

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The 16th-ranked Amherst College women’s basketball team looked for a regular-season sweep of NESCAC and Little Three archrival Williams College this afternoon at Chandler Gymnasium in Williamstown, Mass. Amherst was denied that luxury, and with a 64-59 loss dropped its first game of the season.

Amherst opened the game with a 4-0 lead before the Ephs fired back with five straight points. The two teams traded a few baskets, and close to the midway point of the first half, Amherst opened up a 20-13 lead on a three-pointer from senior tri-captain Shaina Pollack (Great Neck, NY).

With nine minutes left in the half, Williams went into a zone defense to try and slow down the Amherst attack. The Lord Jeffs refused to be handcuffed, and junior Stacy Brossy (Lukachukai, AZ) nailed a three-pointer to increase the lead to 25-14.

Pollack continued to terrorize Eph defenders, and hit a step-back jumper on the right baseline to stretch the lead to 28-17 with 6:16 to go. Senior tri-captain Anne-Claire Roesch (Westport, CT) got into the mix for Amherst with a triple of her own on a nice rotation of the ball. Despite the hot start from Amherst, Williams began to hang with the Lord Jeffs as the lead stayed around 10 points for a long portion of the half.

Amherst took a 37-28 advantage to the locker room, after first-year Sarah Leyman (Cincinnati, OH) made her presence felt in the first half. The center finished the half 5-for-5 with a pair of free throws for 12 points to lead the Lord Jeffs. Niki Savageau paced Williams with seven points and four rebounds.

Williams started the second half with a 5-2 run to close the gap to just six points, and turned the pressure up a notch with a full court press. With Amherst clinging to a 40-35 advantage, senior tri-captain Stefanie Reiff (Hinsdale, NY) made a trademark jumper in the lane to provide some breathing room.

Amherst called a timeout with just under 14 minutes to play in the second half and scored coming out of the break on a beautiful lob inbounds pass from Roesch to Leyman down low. At the 10-minute mark, Williams scored on a fast break to close to within two possessions at 46-41.

Williams junior point guard Mika Peterman broke out of her shooting slump with a three-pointer, after an offensive rebound on the end of a 1-for-2 trip to the free throw line. The triple closed the game to 48-45, after Peterman, the Ephs’ leading scorer at 16.1 ppg, started the game 1-for-11 from the field before the three.

The Ephs took their first lead since holding a 5-4 edge with 17:45 to go in the first half on a three pointer from Chessie Jackson. On the next Williams possession, a pair of foul shots from Peterman extended the Eph lead to 51-48 with just over six minutes remaining in the second half.

Amherst looked for an equalizer down two points, but missed a trio of shots after offensive rebounds. The final miss fell to Taylor Shea, who was fouled on the board. Shea knocked down both free throws on a one-and-one trip to the charity stripe to put Williams up four. Reiff responded with another jumper in the lane to close to 53-51, before the Lord Jeffs forced a turnover on the other end.

With 3:40 remaining in the second half, Williams had the ball and a 55-51 lead. After a single free throw from Leyman, a Williams jumper gave the Ephs a 57-52 edge with 2:30 to play.

Jackson was whistled for an offensive foul on a huge stop for Amherst around the two minute mark. With 1:58 showing on the clock, Pollack knocked down a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 57-54. After four straight free throws from Shea, with an Amherst miss sandwiched in between, Williams held its largest lead of the game at 61-54 with 1:23 to go.

The Jeffs went to junior Yasmine Harik (New York, NY) on the left block, where she was fouled on the attempt. Despite a timeout to ice the shooter after the first make, Harik knocked down both free throws with 1:09 to go, cutting the margin to 61-56.

Immediately after the inbound, Peterman was fouled in the backcourt. Peterman hit both foul shots, but Amherst answered right back with a three from Brossy. With 57.5 to go in regulation, Amherst called a timeout on the basket, down four points, 63-59.

The Lord Jeffs pressured for a turnover, but were forced into a foul with 41.5 remaining. After a pair of missed foul shots, Amherst forced two straight jump balls to take possession back. With 22.4 to go, Amherst had the ball under its own basket, still down four points.

Pollack drove into the lane, but missed the jumper with 10 seconds to play. Leyman grabbed an offensive rebound, but was called for traveling. Amherst fouled again, and Shea made one-of-two free throws. Down 64-59, Amherst called its last time out with 4.6 to play. Only a desperation play was left for the Jeffs, which rimmed off.

For the second straight season at Williams, the Jeffs were led by a first-year scoring 15 points. Last season it was Swensen, this year Leyman, while Pollack had 12 points, and Reiff added 11. Williams had four players in double-digits, led by Shea’s 16, including a 12-for-16 night at the line.

Amherst fell 64-59, for the team’s first loss of the season in both conference play, and overall. At 17-1 (3-1 NESCAC), the Lord Jeffs still set the mark for the longest win streak, and best start in program history.