Lord Jeffs Set to Host NCAA Sectional Rounds
AMHERST, MA – Amherst College will serve as one of four hosts for this weekend’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament Sectional Rounds. The Lord Jeffs will take on New York University Friday, Mar. 13 at 7 p.m., with Muhlenberg College and Brandeis University squaring off at 5 p.m. Friday’s winners will advance to Saturday’s national quarterfinal contest, which will begin at 6 p.m.
Friday’s and Saturday’s games will feature live webcasts with audio and video feeds available, and will also feature live statistics. Webcast links will be posted on the Amherst Athletics website later this week, and will also be made available at www.ncaa.com. Tickets for each day will be $7 for adults and $4 for students, senior citizens and children, while children under the age of two will be admitted free of charge. Doors to LeFrak Gymnasium will open at 3:30 p.m. on Friday and at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Amherst (27-2) advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 for the second consecutive year, but last weekend marked the first time the Lord Jeffs have hosted games in the national tournament. After earning a 77-54 win over Babson College in the tournament’s opening round, Amherst cruised to a 76-37 victory over Emmanuel College to become the lone NESCAC team to survive the first weekend of NCAA Tournament play.
In last year’s Round of 16 Amherst met up with defending national champion DePauw University and nearly pulled off the upset. Trailing by only one point at halftime, Amherst took a one-point lead on a jumper by Jaci Daigneault ’11 with 3:35 to play, but the Jeffs lost the lead on the ensuing DePauw possession and could never get it back, ultimately falling by a score of 68-63.
After being held to fewer than 50 points in the NESCAC Championship semifinals and finals, Amherst regained its rhythm in the NCAA Tournament. The Jeffs were an uncharacteristic 3-for-35 from beyond the arc in the final two rounds of the conference tournament, but they got back on track by shooting 8-for-17 from downtown in the first half against Babson before shooting 52.7 percent from the floor against Emmanuel.
Daigneault—an All-NESCAC First Team selection—leads Amherst in scoring (12.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg), but it was Lem Atanga McCormick who stole the show this past weekend. The first-year center scored 17 points in each of her first two NCAA Tournament games while shooting 70 percent (14-for-20) from the floor. Atanga McCormick put on a show against Babson by knocking down all three of her three-point attempts, as she upped her season scoring average to 9.2 points per game.
Standing in Amherst’s way on Friday are the NYU Violets, who enter the Round of 16 with a 23-4 record. The Violets have lost only to fellow University Athletic Association (UAA) schools Washington University (St. Louis) and Rochester, both of which are still alive in the NCAA Tournament.
NYU ended the regular season on a four-game winning streak before defeating Salve Regina University in the national tournament’s opening round, 80-55. The Violets punched their ticket to the Round of 16 with a 71-57 win over Stevens Institute of Technology in the second round, as they never led by fewer than 11 points in the final nine minutes of the game.
Fans in attendance this weekend will be treated to NYU senior captain Jessica McEntee, who was recently named the UAA Player of the Year for the third consecutive time. A D3hoops.com All-America First Team selection from a year ago, McEntee averages 19.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, and has been named the UAA Athlete of the Week 22 times in her career. McEntee’s 22 points and 13 rebounds against Stevens marked the 50th double-double of her 107-game career.
Before the Jeffs and Violets square off, the Judges of fellow UAA school Brandeis University (19-7) will take on the Muhlenberg College Mules (26-3). Making its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, Brandeis hosted first and second round games for the first time in program history. After earning a 62-49 win over Western Connecticut State in the opening round, the Judges cruised to a 79-52 victory over Mount Saint Mary.
Brandeis got off to a 10-0 start this season, with each victory coming against a non-conference opponent. The difficult UAA schedule led to a 7-7 conference record for the Judges, but it was enough to give them an at-large bid and hosting rights in the national tournament. Brandeis became familiar with the NESCAC earlier this season by earning a convincing 71-44 win over Bowdoin and an 81-76 victory at Tufts.
Junior co-captain Jessica Chapin leads the Judges in scoring (14.2 ppg) and rebounding (6.7 rpg) as the team’s lone member of the All-UAA First Team. As Brandeis’ leader in scoring, rebounding, assists (3.3 apg) and steals (3.0 spg), Chapin is one of three players in the UAA in the top 10 in all four categories. Chapin finished the regular season ranked second on Brandeis’ all-time list with 117 career three-pointers, 30 out of first place, while her 45 trifectas this season set a new single-season record.
Rounding out the teams participating at Amherst is Muhlenberg (26-3), which did what the Jeffs were unable to do this season by defeating Bowdoin this past weekend in the NCAA Tournament. The Mules’ victory over the Polar Bears earned them a trip to the Round of 16 for the first time in program history. In the tournament’s first round, Muhlenberg earned an 80-63 win over Westfield State.
The Mules posted a perfect 18-0 record in the Centennial Conference this year before cruising through the CC Tournament. The CC title was wrapped up with a convincing 21-point victory over Johns Hopkins in the finals, marking the Mules’ 10th consecutive win of the season.
Muhlenberg is led by All-CC First Team selections Lauren Boyle ’09 and Kelly McKeon ’11 and Second Team honoree Alexandra Chili ’12. While Chili and Boyle average 16.0 and 14.1 points per game, respectively, McKeon’s impressive sophomore campaign includes 11.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists per contest. The Mules average 70.3 points per game while shooting at a .419 clip from the floor, both of which are the best in the CC.