Jeffs Escape at Colby, 51-50; Gromacki Wins 300th

Contact: Ben Badua

Caroline Stedman '12 capped off Amherst's late rally with a go-ahead layup with 18 seconds left.

WATERVILLE, Maine - Caroline Stedman ’12 (Walpole, Mass.) made several big plays down the stretch, including netting the go-ahead basket in the waning moments of regulation as the top-ranked Amherst women’s basketball team survived a scare and rallied to defeat Colby, 51-50.

Down by as much as seven in the final 4:34 of regulation, Stedman spearheaded the Lord Jeff charge, having a hand in six of the team’s final eight points to help Amherst improve to 17-0 overall and 5-0 in NESCAC play.

With their last loss to Colby coming during the 2003-04 season, the Jeffs have won 11 straight against their NESCAC rivals, dropping the Mules to 12-3 (3-2 NESCAC). Amherst also extended its overall win streak to 36 games, while having now won 28 straight in league play.

Today's win also marked head coach G.P. Gromacki's 300th career victory. In five seasons at the helm of the Amherst women's basketball program, Gromacki has compiled a 137-9 (0.938) mark, raising his career record to 300-47 (0.865).

Holding onto a 12-10 lead after a Kelly Potvin ’12 basket just under the 14-minute mark, first-year Megan Robertson (Tewksbury, Mass.) made a nice backdoor cut, connecting on a shot down low to extend the Amherst lead to four.

With under 12 minutes to go in the frame, Stedman drove to her left, laying it in for a pair to up the Amherst lead to 16-10. Colby responded with a 6-0 run, pulling even on a Diana Manduca ’13 jumper from the left elbow.

Still tied at the six-minute mark, Robertson broke the visitors’ dry spell, driving baseline to give the Jeffs a two-point edge. Jasmine Hardy ’13 (Meriden, N.H.) padded the Jeff lead with a triple on Amherst’s next possession before a Kim Fiorentino ’12 (Holmdel, N.J.) bucket capped off a quick 7-0 spurt.

Looking to keep pace, Jayde Bennett ’13 knocked down a jumper from the left side before a Rachael Mack ’12 trey suddenly pulled Colby back within two at 23-21. Down one with under a minute to play in the half, Mack connected on the low block to give the Mules their first lead of the game.

Fiorentino went 1-for-2 from the line on Amherst’s next trip down the floor to make it 25-25, but Aarika Ritchie ’12 buried a trey from the left wing to stake the home team to a three-point edge heading into the intermission.

Megan Robertson '15 had seven rebounds, two
blocks and a team-high 18 points against Colby.

With Amherst regaining a 38-37 lead with just over 10 to play in the second, Ritchie dove into the lane before dishing to an open Jil Vaughan ’12, who put the Mules back on top with a layup.

A pair of Fiorentino free throws momentarily gave Amherst a 41-39 edge, but five unanswered from Colby beginning with another Mack three helped the Mules open a three-point lead with 7:36 left in regulation.

Still ahead 44-41 with just over five minutes remaining, Bennett banked in a jumper from the free throw line before drilling a long two from the left wing to push the Colby lead to seven.

After Fiorentino quieted the home crowd with a short jumper in the lane, Stedman drove into the paint before finding a cutting Robertson to pull the Jeffs back within three at 48-45. Coming up with a loose ball on Amherst’s next possession, Stedman rushed upcourt and sliced to the basket where Robertson followed a missed layup with a putback to make it a one-point game.

Continuing to go on the offensive, Marcia Voigt ’13 (Skillman, N.J.) hit a runner in the lane off a Stedman assist to help the Jeffs regain the lead.

Following a timeout, Mack answered by connecting on a short basket with 42 seconds left. Stedman again came through, this time driving to her left before putting in an off-balance layup with 18 seconds on the clock to put Amherst ahead for good.

Manduca and the Mules would get one final chance to retake the lead but could not get a clean look against an active and aggressive Amherst defense, as the Jeffs held on to the 51-50 win.

Robertson finished with a game-high 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting, adding seven rebounds and two blocks. Stedman had 14 points with four assists, while Fiorentino added 13 points three assists and three steals.

Mack led the way for Colby with 14 points and five rebounds, while Vaughan finished with 10 points, four boards and four blocks, going 5-for-10 from the field. Ritchie chipped in with a game-high eight assists.

Amherst returns to action on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Williams.