Voigt Leads Jeffs to Fifth NESCAC Title
Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. – Marcia Voigt ’13 netted 19 of her game-high 21 points in the second half to lead the Amherst women’s basketball team to a 53-38 win over archrival Williams in the NESCAC Championship game.
Clinging onto a two-point lead midway through the second half, Amherst outscored Williams 26-8 over the final 11:08, surrendering just three field goals during that span to lock up its fourth consecutive NESCAC title (fifth overall). With the win, Amherst (26-1) also secured the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship, while Williams (22-5) must now hope for an at-large invitation when the tournament field is officially announced on Monday, Feb. 25 at 2:30 p.m.
Avenging a Feb. 10 loss to the Ephs which snapped the Jeffs’ record 41-game league win streak, Amherst made a concerted effort to stifle the Williams attack, holding the visitors to 28.6 percent (12-for-42) shooting and a 25.0 percent (3-for-12) clip from long distance. Feasting off of the Ephs’ 26 turnovers, the Purple & White nabbed a season-best 18 steals, while scoring 20 points off of Williams’ miscues.
Going just 1-for-10 from the field in the first half, Voigt regrouped, hitting seven of her 13 attempts in the final 20 minutes, including a pair of big three-pointers. Megan Robertson ’15 hit all five of her shots and both her free throws to finish with 12 points and seven boards, while Savannah Holness ’15 had 10 points and seven rebounds. Recording a career-high five steals, Holness matched Voigt for the team lead, with Jasmine Hardy ’13 also coming up with four takeaways to go along with her eight boards.
Scoring 30 points in the regular season NESCAC matchup with the Jeffs, Claire Baecher ’13 struggled to get going, finishing 0-for-7 from the field with six points as Williams was held to its lowest scoring output of the season. Ellen Cook ’15 paced the Ephs with nine points, while Kellie Macdonald ’15 and Jennie Harding ’13 combined for 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting.
Trailing 6-2 in the early going following a Danny Rainer ’13 jumper, Amherst rattled off a 10-3 run, taking a three-point edge with just under seven minutes to go in the first. Still down three in the waning moments of the period, MacDonald connected on a jumper to make it 18-17 as the teams closed out a sloppy first half which saw the finalists shoot a combined 10-for-50 (20 percent) from the floor with 22 turnovers.
Picking up the pace to start the second, Harding drained a game-tying triple after a Robertson layup. Macdonald and Baecher then tallied the next four points to put the Ephs up 24-20. Amherst answered with five-straight to regain the edge, but Robertson picked up her fourth foul in the process, heading to the bench just under the 16-minute mark.
Fresh off a three-pointer that put the Jeffs back on top, Voigt picked up the slack, scoring four-straight to make it 29-26. Up 36-32 with under nine to play, Voigt stole the ball from Macdonald before going coast-to-coast for two. After a Harding miss on Williams’ next possession, Voigt pushed the ball upcourt, finding Holness on the secondary break to suddenly put Amherst up eight.
Following a Williams timeout, Voigt kept the Jeffs rolling, draining a three-pointer from the left wing before Holness later hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to give Purple & White a 44-32 cushion. Harding knifed into a lane for two at 6:05, ending a seven-plus minute Eph field-goal drought, but Voigt quickly converted a three-point play to extend the home team’s margin to 13. Cook drained a jumper from the left elbow to make it 47-36 inside of the four-minute mark, but Amherst continued to pour it on, putting together a 6-0 spurt over the next 2:04 to pull away.
Holding a 41-32 rebounding edge, Amherst outscored Williams 24-12 in the paint despite Robertson logging just 21 minutes because of foul trouble. The Jeff bench also held a 10-5 scoring edge over the Eph reserves, while finishing with a 6-0 margin in second chance points.