Voigt, Women’s Hoops Cruising; Lady Jeffs 20-0, Perfect in the NESCAC
Issue   |   Tue, 01/29/2013 - 22:46
Niahlah Hope '15
Senior guard Marcia Voigt has been a key piece to the team’s success, leading the team with 12.4 points per game.

Women’s basketball picked up where it left off after the break, improving to 19-0 and winning its first six conference games. After a Marcia Voigt ’13 buzzer-beater against then-undefeated Simpson and a couple of close games against Wesleyan and Conn. College, the third-ranked Lord Jeffs won four of their next seven games by over 15 points and now sit atop the NESCAC tied with fourth-ranked Tufts, who they will play at home on Saturday. Amherst starts the season 13-0 or better for the sixth straight year and has won a remarkable 96 of its last 100 games.
The team traveled south to Daytona in late December for the Land of Magic Classic, where they received all they could handle from 14-ranked Simpson. The first half ended with Amherst leading 29-27, as the Lord Jeffs grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and outshot the Storm 42-24 but were a cold 26.2 percent from the field and 4-18 from deep.

The second period was a half of streaks, with Simpson scoring eight straight to take the lead before the Lord Jeffs answered with a 12-0 run of their own to go up eight with 10 minutes left. The teams traded baskets until a Bridget Crowley ’13 free throw gave Amherst a 60-54 lead with 2:14 remaining.

Kate Nielsen dragged the Storm back into the game, making two shots before stealing the ball and swooping in for the layup to tie things up with 20 seconds to go. The team avoided calling timeout and played for the last shot, which Voigt converted with two seconds left.

The next day’s game against Western New England proved to be a tamer affair, as the team used 21 turnovers and a 48-30 advantage on the glass to win by 24. The Lord Jeffs established a 10-point lead 10 minutes into the game that was never seriously threatened, and senior Jasmine Hardy led all scorers with 17 points.

Amherst began conference play in Middletown, where a Wesleyan rally fell short as the Cardinals ran out of time and lost 41-37. The game was a defensive struggle from the start, with the teams combining for 12 first-half field goals and 43 total turnovers and both shooting under 30 percent. Amherst held Wesleyan scoreless for the first 10:59 of the second half and led by 17 with just over seven minutes left.

Wesleyan began to show signs of offensive life as two three-pointers and a putback made the score 39-33 with 3:16 left, only to miss their next three shots. Two clutch Crowley free throws sealed the victory with 24 seconds left, and a last-second flurry of points by Wesleyan made the final score 41-37.

Conn. College entered their matchup against Amherst 5-7, but the Camels hung with the seventh-ranked Lord Jeffs and led by five with 4:05 remaining. Hardy responded with a four-point play, then hit a layup after a Conn. College turnover to put the team in front for good.

Voigt, who was perfect from the line, hit two free throws at the 2:13 mark and would answer a Camels jumper with a layup to keep the lead at three with a minute to go. Conn. College turned the ball over twice in the last minute, and Voigt iced the game with two more free throws before a meaningless buzzer-beater brought the score to 50-48.

The Lord Jeffs’ next five games were against sub-.500 out-of-conference teams and NESCAC bottom-dwellers, and the team responded with five wins and three blowouts. Amherst beat Farmingdale State, Kean and Bowdoin by 22, 28 and 16, respectively, while Colby and Bowdoin posed harder tests.

The Lord Jeffs were down 11 at halftime against Hamilton thanks to 4-23 shooting before shooting 48.3 percent in the second half, with Voigt scoring 14 second-half points and Amherst coming out on top 50-43.

Against Colby, meanwhile, the team built up a 19-point lead with five minutes left before Colby made things interesting with a 13-2 run. Just as in the Wesleyan game, however, the clock proved Amherst’s ally as the game ended with Amherst up by nine, 69-60.
Last week’s victories against Williams and Trinity, sitting at third and fourth in the NESCAC, allowed the Lord Jeffs to gain conference separation from everyone save Tufts.

The 15-2 Ephs came in on a six-game win streak, but Amherst overcame a mediocre shooting night by going 16-19 from the charity stripe and clamping down on Williams’ dangerous outside shooters, forcing them to go 0-9 from deep in the second half after allowing 12 points from behind the arc in the first half. Voigt led the team with 16 points and six assists, while Crowley went 5-10 from the field.

The team followed up their midweek win with a statement victory on Saturday, crushing Trinity 67-47. The Lord Jeffs were up by ten 2:19 in and never looked back, leading by 20 at halftime. Savannah Holness ’15 had 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals, and Megan Robertson ’15 filled up the stat sheet with 11 points, eight rebounds and six blocks.

Last night, the Jeffs made quick work of Wesleyan, dispatching the Cardinals, 46-30.

The Lord Jeffs’ success has been based in large part on balanced scoring, solid defense and a strong interior presence.
The team has four out of the top 15 scorers in the NESCAC and Voigt, Crowley, Robertson and Hardy each average 9.5 or more points per game, pacing the NESCAC’s highest-scoring offense. The offense runs through do-everything guard Voigt, who averages 12.9 points per game, leads the NESCAC in assists and is third in steals.

Defensively, the Lord Jeffs hold opponents to 33.3 percent shooting and are stingy on the glass, limiting second chances with a +9.4 rebounding margin. Much of those two statistics are due to Robertson, a commanding presence at 6’2” who leads the league in blocks, rebounding and shooting percentage and forces opponents to think twice before driving into the lane.
The Lord Jeffs face Bates at home on Friday before playing Tufts in their biggest test of the season. The Jumbos allow just 43 points a game, setting up what should be a thrilling matchup of offense vs. defense.

About the upcoming game, Coach Gromacki said, “We are really taking it one game at a time. I feel our team is coming together well on the court. The more time spent together brings cohesiveness on the court.”

The NESCAC bout is set for 2:00 p.m. on Friday in LeFrak Gymnasium.

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