Athletics

Jeffs Selected to Host NCAA Sectional Rounds

Contact: Justin Long

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AMHERST, Mass. – Amherst College has been selected as a Sectional host site for the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship. The Lord Jeffs will continue their national title defense by taking on York College (Pa.) this Friday in LeFrak Gymnasium.

Joining Amherst and York in LeFrak this weekend will be Emmanuel College (Mass.) and King’s College (Pa.), which will also play Friday night in the Sectional semifinals. Friday’s winners will advance to compete in Saturday’s Sectional finals with a spot in the Final Four on the line. NCAA BRACKET

Game Times: Friday's Sectional semifinal round will begin with Emmanuel taking on King's at 5 p.m., followed by Amherst hosting York at 7 p.m. Saturday's Sectional final will begin at 6 p.m.

Ticket Information: Tickets for this weekend's games will cost $7 for adults and $4 for students and senior citizens. Children under 2 will be admitted free of charge, as will Amherst College students with a current valid ID. Tickets for Friday's games will go on sale when doors to LeFrak Gymnasium open at 3:30 p.m. For Saturday's game, tickets will go on sale when doors to LeFrak open at 4:30 p.m.

Live Coverage: Each of this weekend's games will feature a free webcast and live statistics.

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Scouting York: The Spartans (24-5) are making their third appearance in the NCAA tournament as an at-large selection out of the Capital Athletic Conference. Three of York’s losses this season have come at the hands of seventh-ranked Mary Washington (29-0), with a fourth coming to eighth-ranked William Paterson (26-3). The Spartans are 4-2 all-time in the national tournament and are in search of the program’s first-ever trip to the Final Four.

York advanced to the Sectional rounds after picking up road wins over St. Vincent (86-66) and regional host Juniata (90-81). After knocking down 53.7 of their field goal attempts in the opening round (29-of-54), the Spartans shot an incredible 76.9 percent (20-for-26) in the second half of their upset win over 15th-ranked Juniata, including 8-for-9 from long range. They would finish their second-round game at 35-of-53 overall (.660), giving them a .598 shooting percentage through the first two rounds.

The Spartans feature four All-Conference selections in their starting lineup but received only eight bench points in their first two tournament games combined, as none of York’s reserves average more than 2.7 points per game. April Sparkman ’12 (16.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Brittany Hicks ’14 (13.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg) combined for 50 points against Juniata, while Kristen Haley ’14 (14.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg) poured in 25 against St. Vincent. Aja Wallpher ’14 dished out 11 assists in each game, as she leads Division III in the category (7.3 apg).

Scouting Amherst: Sparkman and the sophomore trio give York one of the best starting lineups in the country, but the Lord Jeffs (29-0) will counter with a defense that has held three consecutive opponents below 30 percent shooting. Amherst earned an 84-30 win over St. Joseph’s by holding the Lady Bears to a 2-for-21 performance in the second half, while Babson shot 29.0 percent overall and was 0-for-7 from long range. In their first two tournament games, the Jeffs held their opponents to a combined 11-for-57 (.193) in the second period.

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Defense has been the key all season for the Jeffs, who have allowed only three teams to score 60 points and have not let anyone put up more than 63. Amherst was outrebounded significantly by Babson (51-37) and shot 4-for-23 from behind the arc, but the Jeffs forced 19 turnovers and held the Beavers well below their nation-leading .465 field goal percentage.

Saturday’s game against Babson could have gone either way, but Megan Robertson ’15 gave Amherst an eight-point cushion with her first three-pointer of the season and Marcia Voigt ’13 buried a three of her own to seal the deal with 1:32 remaining in regulation. Voigt and Robertson shot a combined 55.0 percent this past weekend as bright spots for Amherst, with Robertson contributing 12.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in the first two NCAA tournament games of her career.

Caroline Stedman ’12 is averaging 14.2 points per game during this postseason, with Voigt (13.6) and Robertson (11.0) providing depth that may present problems for York on Friday. Kim Fiorentino ’12 will be hoping to find the hot hand she had during last year’s Sectional rounds, when she averaged 13.5 points and 3.0 blocks while shooting 9-for-14 in a pair of big wins. The Jeffs are still looking for their shooting touch from behind the arc, as they have shot below 30 percent from three-point range in seven of their past 14 games for a .278 clip during that stretch.

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Scouting Emmanuel: Returning to LeFrak Gymnasium will be the Saints of Emmanuel College (24-6), who automatically qualified for the national tournament as GNAC champions. Emmanuel is 15-17 in 17 NCAA appearances, most notably advancing to the Final Four in 2001. The Saints are riding a 12-game win streak since falling to Wesleyan on Jan. 25, making them 24-1 against teams outside of the NESCAC.

Head coach Andy Yosinoff has led Emmanuel to 685 victories in 35 seasons, and he nearly had a 686th when his Saints gave Amherst a run for its money during the regular season. Emmanuel led for a good portion of the game and tied things up for a 13th time with 7:20 to play, but the Jeffs closed the game on a 28-4 run for an 84-60 win. Fiona O’Dwyer ’13 had 22 points and Meghan Kirwan ’12 added 21, but the rest of the team combined for 17 points on 5-of-26 shooting.

O’Dwyer (14.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and Kirwan (13.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.1 apg) pace Emmanuel in scoring, and this past weekend Kirwan led her team into the tournament’s second round with 17 points, nine steals, seven assists and six boards during a 68-61 win over Hartwick. The next day the Saints used a balanced attack and 16 rebounds from Lena Negri ’15 in handing Rhode Island College only its second home loss of the season, knocking off one of the region’s top teams by a score of 57-52.

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Scouting King’s: Looking to slow down Emmanuel will be the King’s College Lady Monarchs (24-5), who are making their fifth NCAA tournament appearances and first since 2003. King’s put together a 13-game winning streak during the season but would have to settle for an at-large bid after falling to Misericordia in the Freedom Conference Tournament finals.

The Lady Monarchs began their tournament run with a 56-42 win over Oneonta State after allowing only 13 first-half points. Their run seemed to be over the next day when they trailed eighth-ranked William Paterson by 15 with 9:00 to go, but King’s stormed back and put together an improbable 11-0 run over the final 2:28 to pull off the upset, 64-63.

Junior guard Celia Rader tied the NCAA Division III Championship record with nine three-pointers in the win over William Paterson, as she ignited the late run with a pair of threes that brought the deficit back to single digits. All 27 of Rader’s points came from behind the arc, while Katlin Michaels ’13 recorded 14 points and 10 assists less than 24 hours after scoring 16 points against Oneonta State. Paige Carlin ’12 has led King’s with 11.4 points per game off the bench this year, with five other players contributing more than 5.0 points per contest.

On the Line: King’s and York are searching for their first-ever trip to the Final Four, while Emmanuel is hoping to return after a 10-year hiatus. The Lord Jeffs have a chance to compete in the national semifinals for a fourth consecutive year, with the defending champions posting a 93-2 record in their past three seasons as the team to beat in Division III. Amherst has won 65 consecutive games in LeFrak Gymnasium and is riding an overall win streak of 48.

2012 NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship
Sectional Semifinals - Friday, Mar. 9
Emmanuel (24-6) vs. King's (24-5) --- 5 p.m.
Amherst (29-0) vs. York (Pa.) (24-5) --- 7 p.m.

Sectional Finals - Saturday, Mar. 10
Friday's Winners --- 6 p.m.

* * * TOURNAMENT BRACKET * * *

Amherst Team Site * York Team Site * King's Team Site * Emmanuel Team Site