Lord Jeffs Hang Tough With 70-65 Win Over Keene State

Senior Shaina Pollack led all scorers
with 18 points.

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College women’s basketball team faced regional rival Keene State College this evening in a non-conference tilt in LeFrak Gymnasium as part of an Amherst doubleheader. The Lord Jeffs topped the Owls by a 70-65 result to improve to 4-0 on the season, while Keene falls to 2-1.

The Lord Jeffs came out determined to continue their momentum from the start of the season. With three wins under their belt in as many games, Amherst jumped out to an early 7-point lead, leading Keene State 12-5 in just under 5:00 of play. The Amherst run was sparked by a monster block from sophomore forward Samantha Swensen (Rockaway Park, NY). Junior Yasmine Harik (New York, NY) grabbed the rebound and started the run up court, feeding senior co-captain Shaina Pollack (Great Neck, NY), who converted from behind the arc to put Amherst in control.

Pollack did a great job leading the Jeffs in the first half, totaling 12 points and four assists while shooting 50% from the field, and 4-of-5 from behind the arc. Swensen followed close behind Pollack with eight points on 3-of-5 shooting.

The Owls put up a solid effort to stick with the Lord Jeffs, keeping the halftime score close at 30-27. Leading the way for Keene State in the first half was guard Kristin Degou, who tallied eight points on 67% shooting from the field and a perfect percentage from the free throw line.

Keene State and Amherst traded baskets to open the second half, with the Owls forcing early Jeff turnovers with a potent full-court press. With a solid defensive effort from the Owls, they took their first lead of the game at 16:02 to make the score 38-37. Both sides kept the game within a single point, until Keene’s Jenn Kinney backed down Amherst first-year Sarah Leyman (Cincinnati, OH) and made an easy lay-up with less than 14 minutes to play.

But Degou kept the Owls in the game when she stepped up from behind the arc to give the lead to Keene State, 45-44. At the 9:45 mark, Amherst stole the lead back when senior tri-captain Stefanie Reiff (Hinsdale, IL) capitalized on a fast break with an easy lay-up that gave the Jeffs a 48-45 advantage. Amherst brought the lead to five, 52-47, with 8:00 minutes to play, forcing a Keene State timeout.

Keene State battled back to bring the game within two points at 53-51 but Pollack drew a tough foul at 5:20 left in half and converted both free throws to give the Jeffs a 55-51 lead. Amherst found the stripe once more when Leyman was fouled on a fast-break attempt, where she converted both of her free throws to bring the score to 57-51 with just under five minutes to play in the game. First-year Courtney Long (Norwich, C) extended the Jeff lead to nine when she converted from behind the arc with less than four minutes to play.

Through the final minutes of play, the Owls fought hard, but Amherst made free throws down in the clutch to pull out a close win, 70-65. Leading the way for the Jeffs was Pollack with 18 points and eights assists. She was followed closely by Swensen, who tallied 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Degou led the Owls with 15 points, while Michelle Boudreau chipped in 14 points of her own.

The Lord Jeffs return to action on Friday evening when they host Westfield State in the Pioneer Valley Classic at 8 p.m.