Athletics

Jeffs Build Big Lead, Hang on Against Williams in NESCAC Semifinals

Voigt
Marcia Voigt '13 had six points, five rebounds and five assists.

AMHERST, MA – The top-seeded Amherst College women’s basketball team used a 20-0 run that spanned nearly 10 minutes to earn a 71-64 win over fourth-seeded Williams College Saturday afternoon in the NESCAC Championship semifinal round.

The Lord Jeffs improve to 25-1 (9-0 NESCAC) and will host Bowdoin Sunday at noon in LeFrak Gymnasium for the conference title. The Ephs drop to 21-5 (6-3 NESCAC) and will hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Holding a seven-point cushion, Amherst scored the final 13 points of the first half and the first seven points of the second frame, keeping Williams off the board for nine minutes and 57 seconds to seemingly put the game out of reach. The Jeffs—who bumped their home win streak to 44—have won eight straight against the Ephs, with three of those victories coming this season.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Kim Fiorentino ’12 (Holmdel, NJ) gave Amherst some early breathing room at 17-7, but Williams stayed in the game with several backdoor cuts and fast-break points. The Ephs cut their deficit to seven on a three by Jen Borderud ’13 and again on a jumper from Chessie Jackson ’11, but the Lord Jeffs closed the first half on a 17-3 run. A steal and coast-to-coast lay-in by Marcia Voigt ’13 (Skillman, NJ) and a Caroline Stedman ’12 (Walpole, MA) layup at the buzzer marked the final points, as the Jeffs headed into the locker room with a 47-26 lead and significant momentum.

Fiorentino and Stedman had 10 points apiece at the break, while Jackson led Williams with seven. The Lord Jeffs shot a blistering 64.5 percent from the floor (20-of-31), while the Ephs hit only 36 percent of their shots (9-of-25).

The first four minutes of the second half belonged to the hosts, who turned tenacious defense into quick points to bump their lead to 28 at 54-26. Even a pair of free throw chances for the Ephs couldn’t stop the bleeding, as the visitors did not get their first points of the second period until Jill Greenberg ’12 hit a tough jumper with 13:42 to play.  

Amherst led by at least 20 until Taylor Shea ’11 hit a layup with 6:42 remaining to make it a 66-47 game. The Ephs never let up, cutting the Jeffs’ advantage to 10 (69-59) thanks to back-to-back lay-ins by Shea and a three-point play from Claire Baecher ’13. A three by Borderud and a jumper in the paint by Baecher made it a six-point game (70-64) with less than 20 seconds to go, but the Ephs could not complete the comeback despite closing out the game on an impressive 25-5 run.

Lem Atanga McCormick ’12 (Chicago, IL) scored 10 second-half points and a game-high 16 in all, while Sarah Leyman ’11 (Cincinnati, OH) had 12, Stedman added 11, and Fiorentino and Jaci Daigneault ’11 (Guilford, CT) finished with 10 apiece. Daigneault added 10 rebounds for a double-double, with Leyman pulling down eight boards of her own. Amherst shot only 27.3 percent (9-of-33) in the second half but recorded 15 steals and four blocks in the game.

Jackson finished with 12 points to lead Williams, which shot 53.8 percent in the second period. Greenberg and Baecher chipped in with 10 points apiece, with Baecher also grabbing eight rebounds.

Tickets for Sunday’s championship will be $5 for adults and $2 for students and senior citizens. Children under the age of 12 and Amherst College students with a valid ID will be admitted free of charge. Doors to LeFrak Gymnasium will open at 10:30 a.m. A live webcast and live statistics will be available.

BOX SCORE

2011 NESCAC Championship
Quarterfinal Round – Saturday, Feb. 19
No. 1 Amherst def. No. 8 Trinity, 57-32
No. 2 Colby def. No. 7 Middlebury, 67-64
No. 3 Bowdoin def. No. 6 Bates, 69-51
No. 4 Williams def. No. 5 Tufts, 69-64 (OT)

Semifinal Round – Saturday, Feb. 26 (@ Amherst)
No. 1 Amherst def. No. 4 Williams, 71-64
No. 3 Bowdoin def. No. 2 Colby, 79-63

Championship Game – Sunday, Feb. 27 (@ Amherst)
No. 1 Amherst vs. No. 3 Bowdoin - 12 p.m.