Jeffs Cruise Into Second Round of NCAA Tournament with 78-32 Win Over Becker
First-year Jaci Daigneault had 10 points and three steals in the win.
by Alex Kantor
BRIDGEWATER, MA – After a late Monday move by the NCAA, the Amherst College women’s basketball team went on the road looking to make some more history this evening in tournament action against Becker College. The game took place on the campus of regional host Bridgewater State College instead of at Amherst. The Lord Jeffs ran away with a 78-32 decision to move along in the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament.
Entering the night at 25-2, the Lord Jeffs have set program marks for longest win streak (17) and total wins (25), in addition to winning their first-ever NESCAC title and NCAA Tournament berth. A win this evening over the 18-10 Hawks would be the first tournament win for Amherst.
Amherst started the game with a trio of three point attempts by senior tri-captain Shaina Pollack (Great Neck, NY) on three of the first four possessions. After missing her first attempt, Pollack nailed the next two to put the Jeffs up 6-2.
After six minutes of play, Amherst stretched out to an 18-8 lead on a back-to-back triples from junior Stacy Brossy (Lukachukai, AZ) and Pollack.
With 11 minutes to play in the first half, the Lord Jeffs doubled up the Hawks 22-11 on a nice inside move from junior Yasmine Harik (New York, NY). After a stop on defense, senior tri-captain Anne-Claire Roesch (Westport, CT) drained a three as the shot clock was winding down to increase the Amherst advantage.
Becker snapped a 9-0 Amherst run on a seemingly impossible three by Kristin Karat as the shot clock expired, only to have Roesch answer back with another three from the right corner. The long range jumper kept the Jeffs up 18 points at 32-14.
Amherst extended its lead as high as 25 points before halftime, and had the luxury of playing every player on the team during the opening frame. Junior Susannah Ludwig (Charlottesville, VA) and first-year Courtney Long (Norwich, CT) got into the mix late in the stanza with nice scores to close out the half.
At the break, Amherst led 43-18 riding a total team effort as 10 of the 13 Lord Jeffs scored in the frame. Pollack led all players with nine points in just 10 minutes, while first-year Sarah Leyman (Cincinnati, OH) scored eight points in 10 minutes. Beth Pion led the Hawks at the break with eight points and four boards.
After eight minutes of play in the second half, first-year Jaci Daigneault (Guilford, CT) put Amherst up 51-21 on an offensive rebound and put-back on the left block. With the Lord Jeffs up big, head coach G.P. Gromacki shut down his starters with tomorrow’s NCAA Second Round game looming less than 24 hours away.
Brossy hit a three from the right wing before Long took a steal 75 feet for a lay-up to put Amherst up 64-24. The Amherst reserves held their own against Becker as the second half continued, keeping the game out of reach from a Hawk comeback.
The Jeffs cruised though the final quarter of the game en route to a 78-32 win. Pollack finished the game with a team-high 11 points for Amherst, while Roesch and Daigneault each chipped in with 10 points. Becker was led by the one-two punch of Karat and Pion who each scored 11 points.
Amherst makes program history with its first NCAA Tournament win, and a program-best 26th victory, while Becker’s season comes to a close at 18-11. The Lord Jeffs will play Bowdoin College for the third time this season in Saturday's second-round game at 5 p.m.