No. 1 Amherst Opens Season With 80-40 Win Over RPI

Co-Captain Jaci Daigneault '11 scored 20 points
and had 12 rebounds in just 25 minutes.

AMHERST, MA – The top-ranked Amherst College women’s basketball team opened up its season this evening at home against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in game two of the Third Annual Tip-Off Tournament. The Lord Jeffs led 38-19 at the break, and cruised to an 80-40 win.

Coming off the best season in program history, Amherst entered this evening’s home opener with a large target on its back. Ranked No. 1 nationally in every preseason poll, Amherst did not lose at home last year (18-0; 32-1 overall). The Jeffs will host SUNY-New Paltz tomorrow at 4 p.m., following a 2 p.m. game between RPI and Colby College.

After three and a half minutes of action, the Lord Jeffs held a 13-2 lead. Amherst knocked down five of its first 10 shots, while causing seven early turnovers by the Engineers. After a Sarah Wetmore jumper, Amherst rookie Marcia Voigt (Skillman, NJ) drilled her first shot of the night from behind the arc to put Amherst up 16-4.

A pair of free throws from RPI’s Linda Larsen with 10:41 to play in the first half closed the gap to 23-10, forcing  Amherst head coach GP Gromacki to call a timeout. The Engineers forced a turnover coming out of the stoppage leading to a reverse lay-in by Lauren Hayes. Voigt responded for Amherst with back-to-back pull-up jumpers to keep the Jeffs up 13 points.

At put-back by senior co-captain Jaci Daigneault (Guilford, CT) as the first half buzzer sounded put the Jeffs on top 38-19 at the break.  Daigneault led all players in points and rebounds at the half with 14 points 6-of-10 shooting and 11 boards.

Amherst started the second half on a 12-6 run to blow the game wide open. A triple by Shannon Finucane (Cortland, NY) with 15:55 to play left the Engineers trailing 50-25. Amherst rookie Bridget Crowley (Hampden, MA) found Daigneault on a fast break for a score with 12:39 to play, but RPI answered right back with score from Kelly Piotrowski.

With 3:49 to play, Amherst sophomore transfer Jasmine Hardy (Meriden, NH) scored her first points as a Lord Jeff on a three from the left wing. Less than a minute later, Crowley found Hardy in transition for a triple from the right side.  With 1:39 to go, rookie Claire DiMario (Lake Forest, IL) scored her first collegiate points on a three-point play the old fashioned way.  

Leading the way for Amherst in the win was Daigneault with 20 points and 12 rebounds, including nine on the offensive glass.  Sarah Leyman (Cincinnati, OH) added 10 rebounds and six points, while Voigt found double-digits in scoring with 11 points. RPI was led by 16 points and eight rebounds from Sarah Wetmore, and seven points from Piotrowski.