Amherst Holds Off Stubborn Springfield 80-70; Starts Season 6-0

Sophomore Sam Swensen was named the Tournament M.V.P.

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College women’s basketball team faced visiting Springfield College in day two of the 2007 Pioneer Valley Classic. In yesterday’s action, Amherst defeated Westfield State College 77-40, while the Pride topped Western New England College 95-60. The Lord Jeffs emerged with an 80-70 win to remain unbeaten.

Amherst sophomore Sam Swensen (Rockaway Park, NY) converted a nice lay-up on a contested fast break to hand the Lord Jeffs an early 8-2 lead just three minutes into the game. Junior Yasmine Harik (New York, NY) followed with a strong finish inside on the next possession.

After a 7-2 run from the Pride, Amherst turned to first-year center Sarah Leyman (Cincinnati, OH) to respond. The 5’11” post player had back-to-back buckets for the Lord Jeffs, as Amherst increased its lead to 10 points at 19-9. Classmate Jaclyn Daigneault (Guilford, CT) followed Leyman’s lead with three consecutive scores for the Jeffs.

Springfield went on a run sparked by strong inside play from Corey Finch, but Leyman responded once again with a three-point play after an offensive rebound. Finch closed the gap to seven points at 34-27 on another smooth post move.

Amherst head coach G.P. Gromacki went to a three guard line-up to close out the first half, hoping to handle the tough Springfield defense that had helped the Pride climb back into the game. At the half, Amherst held a 40-33 edge, with Lehman leading all players with 15 points.

The first five minutes of the second half saw the two sides go shot-for-shot, with Amherst still holding a 52-44 edge with 15 minutes to play. Springfield closed the gap to five points once again when the Pride went to a full court press.

Amherst senior tri-captain Shaina Pollack (Great Neck, NY) took over the game at the 8 minute mark of the second half, and made a pair of consecutive pull-up transition jumpers. With the buckets, the Jeffs’ lead swelled above double digits again.

With 2:10 to play, Springfield closed to within five points on a pair of free throws from Tara McCarthy. Daigneault responded for the Lord Jeffs with a three pointer on the ensuing Amherst possession.

The Lord Jeffs made free throws down the stretch to close out the game 80-70 for their sixth consecutive win to start the season. Daigneault ended the game 6-for-6 from the floor for 15 points, while Leyman finished with 16 to lead six Amherst players who finished in double digits. Finch finished with a game-high 20 points to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team alongside McCarthy and Amherst’s Daigneault and Swensen, who was the Tournament M.V.P.

Springfield falls to 3-3 on the year, while the Lord Jeffs sit at 6-0 heading into a tough non-conference game at Clark on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m.

Corey Finch - Springfield
Tarra McCarthy - Springfield
Sam Swensen - Amherst
Jaclyn Daigneault - Amherst
Jen Dabrowski - WNEC
Lauren Sylvain - Westfield State

Most Valuable Player
- Sam Swensen