Jeffs Clinch NESCAC's No. 1 Seed with 63-43 Win at Middlebury

Courtesy of Middlebury College

Jaci Daigneault '11 (#10) and the Lord Jeffs clinched the NESCAC's No. 1 seed with a 63-43 win at Middlebury.

MIDDLEBURY, VT – Jaci Daigneault ’11 (Guilford, CT) scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the second-ranked Amherst College women’s basketball team to a 63-43 win at Middlebury College’s Pepin Gym Friday evening.

The Lord Jeffs (22-1, 8-0 NESCAC) have clinched the No. 1 seed in the upcoming NESCAC Championship and will host the semifinal and final rounds should they advance past their quarterfinal opponent. The Panthers drop to 13-8 (2-6) on the season.

Playing a deliberate half-court tempo, the Panthers held their own well into the second half against the nation’s fourth-ranked scoring offense but could not hang on down the stretch. Amherst has won eight straight against Middlebury and is unbeaten in its past 22 conference games.

Middlebury held an 8-6 lead at 14:08 in the first half before the Jeffs went on a 13-1 run, opening up a 19-9 cushion with 5:14 to play. A three by Middlebury’s Tracy Borsinger cut the lead to 19-12 at 4:04, before Amherst answered with buckets by Daigneault and Sarah Leyman ’11 (Cincinnati, OH). A Daigneault layup off a Panther turnover capped the first-half scoring at 25-16, as the Jeffs scored 12 points of 14 Middlebury turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

In the second half, a layup by Stephany Surrette off a strong low post move cut the Amherst advantage to 31-23 at 15:22. The Panthers were cold at the free throw line over the next few possessions, as the Amherst lead grew to 37-25 at the 12:56 mark. Middlebury twice cut the lead to 10 points over the next two minutes but could not break the double-digit barrier, as Amherst slowly pulled away in the final 10 minutes for the 63-43 win.

The Jeffs scored 23 points off 22 Middlebury turnovers, while collecting 16 second-chance points to the Panthers’ four. Neither team shot particularly well on the night as Middlebury hit 14 of 43 shots (.326), while Amherst was 24 of 61 (.393).

Daigneault lead all scorers with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, also leading Amherst with nine rebounds. Three Jeffs added seven points apiece, including Caroline Stedman ’12 (Walpole, MA), who also grabbed seven boards, blocked a career-high four shots and swiped a game-high three steals.

Borsinger paced Middlebury with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 2-of-2 from behind the arc. Surrette added seven points and a team-best nine rebounds, while Perfetti also chipped in seven points.

The Lord Jeffs will wrap up their regular season when they take on Williams College tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Williamstown, Mass. Fans planning on attending should note the seating limits of Chandler Gym.