An explosive second half helped the top-ranked Amherst women’s basketball team down eighth-seeded Trinity College, 94-59, on Saturday in the NESCAC quarterfinals. Shannon Finucane ’12 became just the 13th player in Amherst history to join the 1,000-point club with seven points in the playoff victory.
Amherst (25-0) jumped out to an early six-point lead with the help of senior guard Caroline Stedman, who buried a jumper to put the Lord Jeffs up 8-2 just three minutes into play. Finucane hit her first three of the game to build the lead, but Trinity fired back with a 5-2 run to pull within six points.
Marcia Voigt ’13 added back-to-back baskets to put Amherst up 23-13 with 10:15 left in the half, but two layups from Moriah Sweeney kept Trinity within range. The six-point deficit was the closest the Bantums would get to stealing the half.
It was a back and forth game for the remaining nine minutes, with both teams putting pressure on the offensive end. With just under five minutes to play, Finucane drew a foul that would once again put her in the Amherst record books. The senior guard buried both free throws, bringing her career total to 1,001 and giving the Lord Jeffs their biggest advantage of the half at 32-21.
A layup from Jasmine Hardy ’13 at the one-minute mark countered a four-point run from the Bantums, but the visitors responded with a layup to pull within seven before halftime. Amherst entered the break ahead, 34-27.
Trinity opened play in the second half with a layup from Taylor Murtaugh as the two teams traded baskets for the first three minutes. A jumper from first-year Megan Robertson ignited a 12-3 run for the Lord Jeffs, which Stedman finished off with her only three-pointer of the game to help Amherst pull ahead by 16. The senior captain added eight consecutive points to put the home team up 58-40 with just under 12 minutes remaining.
Back-to-back jumpers from Bridget Crowley ’13 and Livia Rizzo ’13 kept Amherst ahead by 22 at the 10-minute mark, but the Bantums battled back with a 6-3 run to pull within 19 points.
The top-seeded Jeffs showed off their dominant offense for the rest of the game, leading by 39 at one point on a three-pointer from Hardy. Two free throws from Sarah Ciarleglio sparked a 7-3 spurt from the visitors in the final two minutes, but Amherst came out on top at the buzzer with the 94-59 victory.
Leading by only five points early in the second half, the Lord Jeffs shot an impressive 22-for-32 on a 58-28 run over the remaining 19 minutes of play.
Stedman’s 16-point performance in the second half put her on top for the day with 20 points and five rebounds. Roberston finished 6-for-6 on the floor with 15 points, while Voigt added 11 points and five assists to the team total. Finucane, who already leads the program in career steals (280) and ranks second in assists (399), tallied seven points for Amherst to cross the 1,000-point threshold.
The Lord Jeffs finished the game with a 61.8 shooting percentage, 15 turnovers and a 36-30 advantage in rebounds, while Trinity managed to shoot just 21-for-57 from the floor. The victory extended the Jeffs’ overall win streak to 44 and its home unbeaten streak to 61.
As the highest remaining seed in the tournament, Amherst will host the NESCAC Championships this weekend, facing off against Colby in Saturday’s semifinal game. The regular season match-up between these two teams ended in a close 51-50 victory for the Jeffs, who will be looking for their fourth conference title in five years.
Robertson was named NESCAC Player of the Week on Monday for her remarkable performance over the weekend. She averaged 18.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and four blocks in only 21 minutes per game off the bench. The rookie currently leads the conference in offensive rebounds per game, and she ranks second in field goal percentage.
Amherst will host eighth-seeded Trinity College next Saturday as the top seed in the NESCAC Championship. The last meeting between these two teams ended in a 66-44 win for the Jeffs. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. in LeFrak Gymnasium.