Amherst's Perfect Season Ruined with 63-61 Buzzer-Beater Loss to Bowdoin

Rookie Lem Atanga McCormick scored 11 points
for Amherst, and was vital in a comeback effort
that fell just short against Bowdoin.
AMHERST, MA – The 4th-ranked Amherst College women’s basketball suffered its first loss of the season with a 63-61 loss to visiting Bowdoin College on a last-second buzzer beater. Amherst trailed a majority of the game, but erased a 10-point second-half deficit to take a later lead before losing on a heartbreaker at the final bell.

Bowdoin jumped out of the gates on fire, opening up a quick 10-4 lead on a three pointer from Alexa Kaubris. Amherst head coach G.P. Gromacki quickly called a timeout in an attempt to slow the Polar Bears. The Bowdoin lead grew to 14-6, before Amherst sophomore Sarah Leyman (Cincinnati, OH) dropped home a put-back in traffic.

After a pair of stops on the defensive end, Amherst sophomore Courtney Long (Norwich, CT) and first-year Kim Fiorentino (Holmdel, NJ) scored consecutive buckets to close the gap to 14-12. The Lord Jeffs tied the game with just over 11 minutes to play on a rebound and score by senior Stacy Brossy (Lukachukai, AZ).

With 8:13 to play in the half, Amherst sophomore Jaci Daigneault (Guilford, CT) tied the game at 19-19 with a 1-for-2 trip to the charity stripe. The Polar Bears answered with a pair free throws, before Long scored on a nice scoop from the right block to keep Amherst level.

Bowdoin took a 27-23 lead with 3:08 to play in the first half after Katie Bergeron followed a Jill Henrikson lay-up with a pair of free throws. Leyman responded for Amherst with a strong post move, before Kaubris scored again for the Polar Bears.

With :41 seconds to play, Fiorentino knocked down a three from the top of the key to keep Amherst close. Brossy scored what looked like the final basket of the first half in traffic, but Bowdoin moved the up the court in just seven seconds for a Henrikson score. At the break, the Polar Bears held a 36-32 lead, with Henrikson leading the way with 11 points. Leyman had 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting to lead Amherst.

After a little more than five minutes of second half action, Bowdoin opened up a 43-34 lead on a pair of quick scores inside. With the margin at 10 points, Amherst rookie Shannon Finucane (Cortland, NY) riffled a pass through the Polar Bear defense to classmate Lem Atanga McCormick (Chicago, IL) for a score. Leyman scored another basket in the paint to cut the margin to 49-43 in Bowdoin’s favor.

Just when it looked like momentum was turning in Amherst’s favor; Bowdoin’s Caitlin Hynes grabbed a steal and went the distance for a three-point play. Atanga McCormick answered with a rare long jumper for the first-year center. On the next Amherst trip, Atanga McCormick drilled a three from the top of the key. The triple was just the second of her young career.

With six minutes to play in the second half, Finucane hit a three to cut the deficit to 54-51. Amherst forced a turnover from Bowdoin, before Daigneault went to work on the offensive glass for the Jeffs. Daigneault closed the margin to a single point at 54-53 on a pair of free throws.

Leah Rubega put Bowdoin up three points on a lay-up, before Long and Finucane hit four straight free throws to give Amherst their first lead of the night at 57-56 with 2:54 to play. Henrikson finished off a three-point play on the next Polar Bear trip to steal the lead right back.

Amherst caught a break with 1:38 to play, as Kaubris was whistled for a foul on an offensive rebound attempt. Long was sent to the line for Amherst, and calmly knocked down a 1-and-1 to tie the game 59-59. Finucane set the offense for the Jeffs, and found Leyman inside for a right-handed scoop to take the lead back.

Bowdoin tied the game at 61-61 with :36 seconds to play on a pair of Kaubris free throws, giving Amherst a chance to hold for the last shot. The Polar Bears forced a turnover from the Lord Jeffs, and called a timeout with 10.3 seconds to play. Senior Maria Noucas brought the ball up the court, but looked to be trapped at the foul line. She riffled a pass inside, to Rubega on the left block with just one second ticking away. The junior forward turned and got a shot off at the buzzer that banked, rattled on the rim and dropped for the game-winner.

Bowdoin ruined Amherst’s bid for a perfect season with a 63-61 win, as the Jeffs lost at LeFrak for the first time since February 10, 2007. Leyman ended the night with a game-high 18 points and five boards, while Atanga McCormick scored 11 points for the Jeffs. Henrikson had 16 points to lead the Polar Bears, as Kaubris added 14 points.

Amherst’s home winning streak was snapped at 25 games, as the Lord Jeffs will look to kick-start a new streak tomorrow, when they host Colby at 3 p.m. Bowdoin travels to face Trinity tomorrow at 3 p.m. as well.