Amherst Defeats Babson in NCAA First Round, 77-54

Atanga McCormickFirst-year Lem Atanga McCormick went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc to lead Amherst with 17 points. (Photo by Matt Milless, D3hoops.com)By Christian Garris ’09

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College women’s basketball team played host to the Babson College Beavers in the opening round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The Lord Jeffs jumped out to a commanding early lead and never looked back, ultimately advancing to the next round with a 77-54 victory.

Amherst improves to 26-2 with the win, while Babson ends its season at 20-9. The Jeffs will host Emmanuel College Saturday, Mar. 7 at 5 p.m. Emmanuel earned a 55-49 victory over the University of Southern Maine in Friday’s first game.

Amherst started the game on a nine-point run that was sparked by a quick three-pointer and long two-pointer by first-year guard Kim Fiorentino (Holmdel, NJ). The Amherst lead stretched out to 20 points midway through the first half, as sophomore Jaci Daigneault (Guilford, CT) finished off a tough three-point play after putting in a lob in traffic.

Amherst first-year Lem Atanga McCormick (Chicago, IL) got into the scoring mix minutes later with back-to-back three pointers. The 6’0 center wowed onlookers with three long-range jumpers altogether, only her third, fourth, and fifth triples of the year. Atanga McCormick was without a doubt the spark that ignited the Lord Jeff air attack, which went 8-for-17 from beyond the arc in the first period.

Babson added some offense late in the first half and cut the Amherst lead to 23. First-year Nicole Wurdmen (Rowley, MA) scored seven in the first period to lead the Babson offensive efforts, while Atanga McCormick and Fiorentino led all scorers in the first half with 11 apiece. Daigneault also added seven points for the Jeffs on a perfect 2-for-2 from the field and 3-for-3 from the line.

A three-pointer from senior point guard Amanda Otieno (Gloucester, MA) put the Jeffs up 26 just five minutes into the second half. Amherst continued to stretch its lead throughout the second half, and Babson, despite playing hard, was unable to close the gap.

Kathleen King (Framingham, MA) led the Babson efforts by adding 14 points and 12 rebounds while Wurdmen added 14 points of her own. Attanga McCormick led all scorers with 17 for the Jeffs while Daigneault had 11, Fiorentino added 13 and first-year guard Shannon Finucane (Cortland, NY) added 10 to round out the scorers in double-figures. First-year Livia Rizzo (Dover, MA) added a career-high six points while pulling down three rebounds in only 10 minutes of action.

BOX SCORE

EMMANUEL VS. SOUTHERN MAINE RECAP