Women’s Basketball Rebounds After Loss; Cruises Into Semis After Dominating Trinity
Issue   |   Tue, 02/19/2013 - 23:02

Women’s basketball rebounded from its first loss in a big way, handing Middlebury a 65-45 loss before demolishing Trinity in the NESCAC Championship quarterfinals on Saturday, 80-34.

The sixth-ranked Lord Jeffs (24-1, 9-1 NESCAC) pulled away late against Middlebury with strong defense and dominated all facets of the game against the Bantams to put the team in prime position to secure their fourth straight NESCAC title game appearance.

The Lord Jeffs played their best defense of the season in the first 11 minutes against Middlebury, holding the Panthers (13-12, 4-6 NESCAC) to just two points while forcing multiple shot-clock violations. On the offensive end, Megan Robertson ’15 got things going inside with three quick baskets. Cheyenne Pritchard ’16 hit a three-pointer after two straight offensive rebounds to make it 11-2, and two possessions later Marcia Voigt ’13 stole the ball and coasted in for a layup to stretch the lead to 12.

Middlebury finally showed signs of life with 8:45 to go, making a three and running a much better offense that resulted in layups on their next three possessions. The Lord Jeffs kept pace with two straight baskets off of offensive rebounds, and a Voigt layup made it 21-11 with 6:11 to go.

The Panthers went on a mini-run to pull within five shortly thereafter, and after an Amherst timeout the teams traded misses before a Pritchard layup took the score to 25-18. Two free throws put Amherst up nine with 1:22 left, but the Panthers capped off the half with a minute-long possession that featured three offensive rebounds and culminated in a three-pointer with four seconds left.

Robertson scored the second half’s first basket, but Middlebury responded with eight straight points, a transition three capping off their run and bringing them within three. Bridget Crowley ’13 answered right away with a nice post move, and the team went on a mini-run to go up seven, only to see Middlebury match them once again. With 12:00 to go, the game was delicately poised with Amherst leading 40-37.

As has so often been the case this year, the Lord Jeffs proceeded to put the game away with a huge run, holding the Panthers to eight points for the game’s remainder.

Crowley got things started with a layup, and Robertson followed suit by putting in her own miss.

The game’s defining moment came two minutes later with Amherst leading 46-39. Robertson grabbed a Jasmine Hardy ’13 miss for a strong putback, and after a Middlebury miss on the other end Voigt found Hardy with a nice pass in transition. Hardy made her layup and was fouled, subsequently hitting the free throw to push the lead to 51-39 with less than seven minutes left.

The Lord Jeffs would steadily grow the lead as Middlebury failed to keep pace, with Hardy adding two more layups and a steal. The Panthers substituted frequently but could not score consistently, and by the final whistle the lead had ballooned to 20. Robertson led all scorers with 18 points and added seven offensive rebounds, while Hardy had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Voigt led both teams with five assists.

Amherst continued their stifling defense against Trinity (13-11, 4-6 NESCAC), who were simply overmatched against the Lord Jeffs. The Bantams shot just 18.9 percent from the field and were an abysmal 2-27 in the second half, whereas the Lord Jeffs shot 41.2 percent and were 16-17 from the free-throw line. Things stayed close for a surprising amount of time considering the final score, and with 12:15 left in the first half the score was only 19-14 in favor of Amherst. The Lord Jeffs finished the half on a 30-8 run with balanced scoring from the starters and Virginia Hassell ’16 off the bench.

The second half was largely wrap-up work for the team as Trinity couldn’t buy a basket at the offensive end. The Bantams did hit eight free throws, but the final score still read an embarrassing 80-34 for the visitors. Robertson poured in 22 points to again lead all scorers, while Crowley racked up yet another double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Amherst’s path to a NESCAC title became much easier on Saturday with Bowdoin’s stunning 60-54 victory over seventh-ranked Tufts in quarterfinal play. Tufts’ loss means that Amherst will host the semifinals and finals and will play the Polar Bears on Saturday instead of having to play third-seeded Williams.

The winner of that game will play the winner of the other seminfal, Middlebury vs. Williams, at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday for the championship title.