22 Down, Two to Go: Women’s Basketball Stands on the Brink of Perfect, 24-0 Regular Season
Issue   |   Wed, 02/08/2012 - 01:06
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
Livia Rizzo ’12 and the Jeffs will test their home win streak this weekend.

Although they’ve already played 22 regular season games, traveled to Las Vegas and back, won by 70 points in a single game and had two players eclipse the 1000-point barrier, the women’s basketball season is far from over.

And, even though they haven’t lost a game since Jan. 11, 2011 (41 games) or at home since Jan. 31, 2009 (58 games), this team’s success will be measured by what starts now. With two home games remaining before the NESCAC and NCAA tournaments, the Jeffs are about to see what they are really made of.

The top-ranked Jeffs picked up two more wins this weekend, rolling over Bates and Tufts in consecutive days to move to 22-0 on the season. The wins also pushed their NESCAC win-streak to 31 games.

Making the long journey to Bates last Friday, Amherst came off the bus cold and only scored 26 first-half points, turning the ball over nine times and shooting 0-10 from behind the arch. Despite its cold first half, the Jeffs still led by nine as the second half tipped off — a sign of the No. 1-ranked Jeffs’ ability to find ways to score and control games even when not playing at their best.

Finding their range in the second half, Amherst pushed its lead from nine to 16 after a trey from tri-captain Kim Fiorentino ’12 and consecutive layups from tri-captain Lem Atanga McCormick ’12.

With 12 minutes to play, preseason All-American and one of the Jeffs’ biggest offensive weapons, senior tri-captain guard Caroline Stedman buried a three to put the visitors up 50-30. Stedman led all scorers with 18, while McCormick added 17 and senior Shannon Finucane finished with 14 in the team’s 75-63 rout.

The next day, the Jeffs traveled to Boston to take on the NESCAC’s second best team, Tufts.

Unlike the first half against Bates, the Jeffs came out firing on all cylinders from the tip-off. Two threes from Stedman and another from McCormick paced a 20-0 run that put the Jeffs up 22-2 early in the half. Amherst led by 20 for most of the half, before a late run by the Jumbos cut the visitor’s lead to 15 at the break.

The Jeffs controlled the second half, never letting their lead slip to less than 14. McCormick led the Jeffs with 13 and also added four blocks, putting her first on the program’s all-time blocks list with 161. Fiorentino also picked up a career-high 15 rebounds.

The win secured the Jeffs the top-seed in the upcoming NESCAC tournament for the third straight year and also gives them home-court advantage.

Now sitting at a perfect 22-0, the Jeffs are only guaranteed three more games, though a post-season run could ensure action through March.

As the regular season comes to a close with two home NESCAC games against perennial threats Williams and Middlebury, the Jeffs look primed for another successful post-season behind the leadership and talent of the senior class. And despite the success of the season thus far, it means nothing come tournament time.