Jeffs Set to Host NCAA Sectional

Contact: Ben Badua

AMHERST, Mass. – Fresh off a pair of opening round wins over Farmingdale State College and the University of New England, the Amherst College women’s basketball team resumes its NCAA Division III Championship run with a sectional semifinal showdown with NESCAC rival Tufts University on Friday.

Also heading to LeFrak Gymnasium are Messiah College and Widener University, with Friday’s winners advancing to face each other in the sectional finals on Saturday.

LIVE COVERAGE: Each of this weekend’s games will feature a free webcast and live stats.

TICKET INFORMATION: Tickets for this weekend's games will be $7 for adults, $4 for students and seniors, while children two and under are admitted free of charge.

SCOUTING No. 6 AMHERST (28-1, 9-1 NESCAC)

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Punching its sixth consecutive ticket to the sectional semifinals, Amherst made quick work of its two opening round opponents, surrendering just 36.5 points per game, while holding Farmingdale State and UNE to 22.9 percent (24-for-105) shooting and a 26.3 percent (5-for-19) clip from long distance. Holding a decisive 45.5-29 rebounding edge, the Jeffs shot nearly 47 percent from the floor and 37 percent from behind the arc.

Turning in a pair of double-doubles, Bridget Crowley ’13 made her presence felt on the low block, connecting on 66.7 percent of her shot attempts, while averaging 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks. Going 9-for-12 from the field in the 67-39 opening round win over FSC, the senior finished with 18 points, 10 boards and four blocks before tallying 17 points and 11 rebounds in the 71-34 triumph over UNE.

Frontcourt-mate Megan Robertson ’15 also starred in the pair of wins, averaging 12 points and nearly eight rebounds per game, while shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor. A second-team All-NESCAC selection, Robertson currently tops the conference in field goal percentage (52.8), rebounds (8.7) and blocks (2.7) per game.

Marcia Voigt ’13 and Jasmine Hardy ’13 combine to form an experienced backcourt, while newcomer Cheyenne Pritchard ’16 rounds out the Jeffs starting five. Leading the NESCAC in assists per game (4.2), Voigt was one of five players in double figures against the Nor’Easters, finishing with 11 points and three assists. A first-team All-NESCAC honoree, Voigt played an integral role in the team’s 54-48 regular season victory over Sweet 16 opponent Tufts, pouring in 13 points with six helpers while Robertson had 13 points, 10 boards and four blocks.

Shooting 40 percent from three-point range during the NCAA Tournament, Hardy is averaging 10.0 points per game over the first two rounds, while Pritchard had a strong all-around showing in the opener against FSC with 11 points, four rebounds and five steals.

SCOUTING No. 11 TUFTS (25-2, 9-1 NESCAC)

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After being upset by eighth-seeded Bowdoin in the first round of the NESCAC Tournament, Tufts has quickly regained its form, scoring a pair of decisive wins over St. Lawrence and No. 16 Babson in last weekend’s NCAA Tournament play. Making a second straight appearance in the Round of 16 (third overall), the Jumbos gave up just 32.5 points per game over the first two rounds, holding opponents to 25.6 percent (20-for-78) shooting and a paltry 13.3 percent (2-for-15) clip from three. Looking to improve on its 9-4 mark in five NCAA Championship berths, Tufts will look to avenge a 54-48 loss to Amherst in LeFrak on Feb. 2.

First team all-conference selection Kate Barnosky ’13 had 15 points and six boards in the last meeting with the Jeffs and currently leads the team in rebounds (6.5) and assists (2.9), while ranking second in scoring (9.0). Second team All-NESCAC performer Hannah Foley ’15 continues to lead the squad in points per game (11.9) after netting 11 against St. Lawrence and a team-high 18 versus Babson.

Hayley Kanner ’15, who had eight points and six rebounds against Amherst, has emerged as a consistent scoring threat, tallying 11 points in each of the Jumbos’ first two NCAA games, while Bre Dufault ’13 gives Tufts another option after putting up 7.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per outing this season.

SCOUTING No. 19 Messiah (25-4, 16-2 CC)
Making its 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, Messiah returns to the Sweet 16 for the first time since finishing as the national runner-up in 2008. Defeating Lancaster Bible, 84-51, last Friday, the Falcons edged out a 78-70 triumph over William Paterson to advance to the sectional semifinals.

Commonwealth Conference Player of the Year Dori Gyori ’13 heads a solid Messiah frount court, leading the league in points per game (17.3), while ranking sixth in rebounds (8.8) and field goal percentage (51.8). Scoring 16 points with nine rebounds against Lancaster Bible, she turned in her 12th double-double of the year against WPU, with 23 points and 11 boards on 8-for-15 shooting. No stranger to Sweet 16 opponent Widener, Gyori had 20 points in a 67-58 win on Jan. 16 before finishing with 21 points and seven boards in a 75-69 overtime loss on Feb. 12.

Joining Gyori up front, Kira Maier ’13 gives the Falcons another option in the low post, averaging 10.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Putting up 17 points and seven rebounds against Lancaster Bible, she had 18 points and 13 boards against WPU.

Taylor Miller ’14, Nicky Hess ’13 and Chelsea Danel ’14 control play on the perimeter, with the trio posting the top-three assist-to-turnover ratios in the conference. Averaging 10.3 points per game, Miller is averaging 15.5 points in two NCAA Tournament games this season after averaging 14.0 points in two games against the Pride.

Also averaging 14.0 points in two games against Widener, Hess is coming off a 12-point effort against William Paterson, while Danel enters the sectionals averaging 8.6 points and a team-best 3.5 assists per outing.

SCOUTING WIDENER (23-5, 16-2 CC)
With a program-record 23 wins, Widener earned its first NCAA Sectional berth in its fourth tournament appearance. Notching the school’s first-ever NCAA win in any women’s sport with a 56-52 victory over FDU-Florman, the Pride earned a stunning 57-56 upset win over No. 9 Catholic in the second round.

Vanessa Hejnas ’13 hit the game winning layup with just 2.9 seconds left, finishing with 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting to send Widener to the Round of 16. First team all-league pick Kate Dellinger ’13, who had 15 points and 16 rebounds in the victory over Catholic, leads the team in scoring (11.9), while ranking fourth in the conference in rebounding (9.1).

Fellow first-teamer Lil Carney ’13 headlines the Pride backcourt as the program’s all-time leader in assists (469). Among the league leaders in helpers (4.1), Carney had 16 points in the first round win over FDU-Florham, while netting 26 points, including the game tying bucket at the end of regulation in the 75-69 triumph over Messiah.

Joanna Persiano ’14 helps spread the floor as the conference’s three-point percentage (42.2) leader, as does Jennifer Egee ’13, the program’s all-time record-holder for career (158) and single-season (66) three-pointers. Netting a team-best 18 points in a Jan. 16 meeting with Messiah, Egee’s sharp shooting was on full display in the team’s NCAA opener against FDU-Florham as she tallied 13 points while hitting three of four attempts from behind the arc.

2013 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship

Sectional Semifinals - Friday, Mar. 8
Widener (23-5) vs. Messiah (25-4) --- 6 p.m.
Tufts (25-2) vs. Amherst (28-1) --- 8 p.m.

Sectional Final - Saturday, Mar. 9
Friday's Winners --- 7:30 p.m.

* * * NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET * * *

Team Websites: Tufts, Widener, Messiah