Jeffs End Regular Season with 66-55 Win at Williams

Fiorentino
Kim Fiorentino '12 had 10 points at Williams.

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – An 8-0 run early in the second half proved to be the difference maker in the second-ranked Amherst College women’s basketball team’s 66-55 win over archrival Williams College Saturday afternoon at Chandler Gym. The Lord Jeffs (23-1, 9-0 NESCAC) have now won seven straight against the Ephs (20-4, 6-3), who suffered their first home loss of the season.

As the top seed in the upcoming NESCAC Championship, Amherst will host eighth-seeded Trinity College on Saturday, Feb. 19, at 4 p.m. The Ephs have earned the No. 4 seed and will host Tufts University in the tournament’s opening round.

Jaci Daigneault ’11 (Guilford, CT) had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead Amherst, which shot 42 percent from the floor. Sarah Leyman ’11 (Cincinnati, OH) added 15 points and six boards, while Caroline Stedman ’12 (Walpole, MA) chipped in with 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds of her own.

Amherst opened the game on a 10-2 run and led by as many as 12 in the first half, but the Ephs closed the period on a 10-2 run of its own to make it a 33-29 game in favor of the Lord Jeffs at the break. Amherst shot 54 percent in the first 20 minutes and held Williams to only 34 percent, but the hosts were 3-of-8 from long range and pulled down nine offensive rebounds.

Chessie Jackson cut the Ephs’ deficit to two points with a layup to start the second half, but Amherst responded with an 8-0 spurt that featured threes from Caroline Stedman ’12 (Walpole, MA) and Kim Fiorentino ’12 (Holmdel, NJ) after the Jeffs failed to knock down a three-pointer in the first half.

The Ephs would cut their deficit to five points on two occasions, including once with only 3:17 remaining in regulation, but Amherst had an answer each time. A pair of free throws by Sarah Leyman ’11 (Cincinnati, OH) and a layup by Jackie Renner ’12 (Newton, MA) pushed the lead back to nine points (62-53) with only 54 seconds to play. Renner and Leyman each hit a pair of freebies in the final 30 seconds, as the Jeffs held on for the 66-55 win.

Williams, which shot only 4-of-21 from long range, got 16 points from Jill Greenberg, 14 from Taylor Shea and 12 from Claire Baecher.

Amherst’s quarterfinal game will be a rematch of the Jan. 22 meeting that saw the Jeffs earn an 81-45 win over the Bantams.

BOX SCORE

2011 NESCAC Championship
Quarterfinal Round – Sat., Feb. 19
No. 8 Trinity @ No. 1 Amherst
No. 7 Middlebury @ No. 2 Colby
No. 6 Bates @ No. 3 Bowdoin
No. 5 Tufts @ No. 4 Williams

Semifinal/Final Rounds – Sat.-Sun., Feb. 26-27
(Played at Highest Remaining Seed)