Jeffs Drop OT Thriller to UW-Whitewater, 64-62
Contact: Ben Badua
HOLLAND, Mich. - Cheyenne Pritchard ’16 tied the game with 6.6 seconds left in overtime, but Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Mary Merg ’14 went coast-to-coast to lift the Warhawks to a thrilling 64-62 comeback win over the Amherst women’s basketball team at the national semifinals in Holland, Mich.
Tying the game with desperation three-pointer at the end of regulation that capped off a 14-2 run, Merg took the inbounds pass following Pritchard’s game-tying basket in overtime and dribbled up the left sideline. Getting into the lane, the junior hit a runner at the buzzer to send the Warhawks (26-6) into the national championship game.
Seeing a 12-point lead evaporate in the final 3:04 of the second half, Amherst fell to 30-2 on the season and will meet archrival Williams in tomorrow’s consolation slated for 4 p.m. Scoring seven of the Jeffs’ eight points in the extra session, Pritchard tied a career-high with 12.
Marcia Voigt ’13 finished with 16 points and six assists, while Jasmine Hardy ’13 netted 15, hitting on 3-of-7 three-pointers. Megan Robertson ’15 posted her 10th double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Bridget Crowley ’13 tied a career-best with 16 boards.
UWW center Cortney Kumerow ’13 led all scorers with 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting, adding 10 rebounds. Lisa Palmer ’16 had 10 points and 10 boards, while Merg finished with 18 points.
Up 4-2 early, Crowley corralled a Hardy miss on a secondary break. Swinging the ball around the three-point line, Voigt eventually got it back in the hands of Hardy, who spotted up and knocked down a three from the left corner to put Amherst up five.
With the score 9-5 after Robertson and Kumerow traded baskets down low, Voigt again linked up with her backcourt mate, feeding Hardy on a run out for an easy two. Crowley put the Jeffs up 13-7, cleaning up a Robertson baseline misfire, but Merg answered on the other end to pull the Warhawks back within four.
Trailing 17-11 midway through the half, Kumerow kick-started a 9-0 run over the next five-plus minutes. Within one after a pair of Amy Mandrell ’14 free throws, Kumerow gave UWW its first lead of the game with a pretty post-up move. Kaitlyn Thill ’14 capped off the stretch by going 2-for-2 from the charity stripe at 4:57 to put the Warhawks up 20-17.
Ending a 7:13 scoreless streak with a basket inside of the four-minute mark, Voigt trimmed the deficit to one. With the Jeffs down 24-19 after a couple of empty possessions, Voigt continued to keep pace, ducking into the lane for two before draining a pull-up jumper. Later cutting it to one with a free throw at 1:03, Voigt closed out the half having scored Amherst’s last seven points.
Crowley wasted no time putting the Jeffs back on top after the intermission with a turnaround seconds into the frame. Hardy extended it to 28-25 with a jumper from the free throw line before Mandrell tallied the Warhawks’ first points with a bucket at 17:31.
Despite not allowing a UWW field-goal for the next seven-plus minutes, Amherst could not gain any traction offensively, with Palmer making it 37-36 thanks to a put-back at 9:01. Hoping to finally seize control the Jeffs reeled off a 13-2 run over the next 3:50 to build a 50-38 cushion.
Robertson got the streak started with a layup at 8:44 before Voigt curled into the lane, burying a short jumper that extended the margin to 41-36. After hitting 1-of-2 from the free throw line, Voigt then broke the UWW press, finding Hardy for another open three. With the shot clock winding down, Pritchard connected on a triple of her own from the right wing to stake Amherst to a 12-point lead.
Still down 12 after a Voigt basket at 3:04, the Warhawks started their comeback. Megan Theune ’13 drilled a three-pointer on Whitewater’s next possession, before Merg dialed it up from distance to make it 52-46. With under a minute to go, Merg drained another trey from nearly the same spot at the top of the key to suddenly pull the Warhawks within three.
Robertson tried to stem the tide with a big baseline jumper with 21 seconds left, but Kumerow answered on the other end to keep it a three-point affair. Needing to foul, UWW sent Voigt to the line with six seconds to go. With the senior point guard missing the front end of a one-and-one, Palmer got it to Merg, who quickly got it over half court before launching desperation three at the buzzer that pulled the Warhawks even at 54-54.
Netting four of the first five points of overtime, Kumerow gave Whitewater a 58-55 lead. Pritchard cut it to one with a pair of free throws, but four-straight Warhawk points put UWW up 62-57 with 29 seconds on the clock. Drawing a foul behind the arc, Pritchard went 3-for-3 from the charity stripe to make it 62-60 before a pair of Palmer free throw misses on the other end gave Amherst new life.
Coming down the lane late in the shot clock, Pritchard scored her seventh straight point for the Purple & White, laying it in with under seven seconds left to knot it at 62-62. Inbounding it to Merg, UWW closed out a dramatic comeback as the junior went end-to-end for the game winner.
A defensive struggle throughout, neither team shot over 35 percent (UWW - 34.5, AMH - 34.3), with Amherst holding a slim 46-45 rebounding edge. Tomorrow’s game will mark the last for Voigt, Crowley and Hardy, who have already set the NCAA Division III record for wins over a four-year span (125). Regardless of the result, Voigt will also tie former teammate Shannon Finucane ’12 for the NCAA DIII career games played record (131).