Amherst Edges Wesleyan in Little Three Play, 57-54

First-year Lem Atanga McCormick led Amherst with 15 points and seven rebounds.
AMHERST, MA – The 7th-ranked Amherst College women’s basketball team improved to 12-0 on the season with a 57-54 come-from-behind win over visiting NESCAC and Little Three archrival Wesleyan University this evening in non-conference play.

After two and a half minutes of action, the two teams deadlocked at 4-4, before Wesleyan’s Ali Fourney hit a three from the right wing to give the Cardinals a lead. Amherst closed the gap to 7-6 on a nice transition jumper by senior Stacy Brossy (Lukachukai, AZ), before Fourney responded with a score on the block.

Amherst took a 13-9 lead with 11:32 to play on a three from Brossy on the left wing, before Meredith Lowe hit a tough baseline jumper for the Cardinals on the following possession. The Lord Jeffs responded with a three-point play by senior co-captain Yasmine Harik (New York, NY).

The Lord Jeffs stretched their lead to 21-16 on a slashing drive from Harik with 7:16 to play in the half. Amherst maintained its five point lead with just over four and a half minutes remaining on a free throw by first-year Lem Atanga McCromick (Chicago, IL). Lowe hit consecutive jumpers for Wesleyan to cut the lead to one point, before Atanga McCromick responded to leave the Jeffs up 27-24 with 3:15 to play.

With just over two minutes to play in the frame, Wesleyan took a brief lead on another Fourney score, before sophomore Kristyn Dunleavy (East Setauket, NY) nailed a three pointer. Amherst looked likely to take a lead into the locker room, before Fourney hit a long three at the buzzer after a broken play.

The triple gave Wesleyan a 31-30 lead, and Fourney a game-high 16 points at the break. Harik paced Amherst with nine points in the half, while first-year Kim Fiorentino (Holmdel, NJ) added seven points of her own.

With 16:26 to play in the second half, Amherst head coach GP Gromacki was forced to call a rare timeout after a Lucy Sprung lay-up put the Cardinals up 35-32. Nearly three minute later, Amherst remained stuck on 32 points, while the Wesleyan lead grew to a game-high eight points.

Atanga McCormick broke the scoring drought for Amherst when she grabbed an offensive rebound on her own miss and put-back a lay-up. The bucket ended a 6:34 period during which Amherst was held scoreless, and also turned momentum in the Jeffs’ favor. Just four minutes later, Amherst had gone on a 10-2 scoring run to tie the game at 42-42.

With 6:24 to play, Atanga McCormick made an uncontested lay-up on the break to tie to game 45-45, before scoring once again to give Amherst the lead back on the next possession. The rookie center put-back a miss off a classmate Shannon Finucane (Cortland, NY) jumper to give her a dozen points in the frame.

A Dunleavy triple from the top of the key put Amherst up 54-47 with 3:13 to play in the second half. Wesleyan responded with a 7-0 run to tie the game on a Lowe jumper with 1:34 to go. With 41.1 seconds to play, Brossy hit a three from the right wing to put Amherst ahead 57-54. The Jeffs forced a turnover on the ensuing Wesleyan possession, forcing the Cardinals to foul as soon as Amherst put the ball into play. Despite missing free throws down the stretch, Amherst survived a game-tying attempt from Lowe to hold on for a 57-54 win.

At game’s end, Fourney led all players with 19 points, while Lowe added 13 for the Cardinals. Atanga McCormick was the catalyst for Amherst’s comeback en route to a team-high 15 points and seven rebounds. The win moved Amherst’s home win streak to 23 games.

Amherst returns to action on Saturday when they kick off the first of two annual doubleheaders with Williams College on the road. The team will face the Eph-women at 2 p.m., before the two men’s teams tip-off for the first time this season at 4 p.m.