Women's Hoops Cruise to Sweet 16
Issue   |   Tue, 03/05/2013 - 23:30
Niahlah Hope '15, Public Affairs Office
Two blowout wins for the Jeffs have set up a much-anticipated rematch with Tufts.

Women’s basketball opened NCAA tournament play in style over the weekend, winning their two opening-round games by a combined total of 64 points. The team jumped out to a 21-3 lead and cruised to a 67-39 victory over Farmingdale State before dropping 41 second-half points on the Univ. of New England in a 71-34 beat down. The victories set up a tantalizing rematch as the Lord Jeffs (28-1) will host Tufts on Friday in Sweet 16 action.

Farmingdale (12-13), who lost by 22 to Amherst in January, came out in an 2-3 zone and full-court press on dead-ball situations in an attempt to disrupt the Lord Jeffs’ offensive flow. The Rams’ offense was predicated on aggressive drives to the basket, and the strategy appeared to pay off early as Siobhan Purvis got to the line and hit one of two to start the game.

The Lord Jeff defense tightened, however, and cutters found themselves hoisting up wild shots with no space to operate in the lane. The Rams never altered their offense and as a result shot just 26.5 percent from the field, with their leading scorer going 0-13.

On the other end, Amherst moved the ball well against the zone and hit their open looks, shooting a lights-out 48.1 percent. Megan Robertson ’15 opened the scoring with a nice post move, and the Rams called timeout just three minutes in after Jasmine Hardy ’13 drilled a three on the secondary break.

The Lord Jeffs continued scoring after the timeout, with two Marcia Voigt ’13 free throws making it 21-3 after just eight minutes. The Rams finally awoke on the offensive end, with foul shooting and a couple of tough three-pointers bringing them within 10 at the 6:45 mark.

From there on out it was all Amherst, as the team ended the half on a 12-3 run to go into the break up 39-20. Bridget Crowley ’13 paced the team’s early efforts with 12 of her 18 points coming in the first half.

The Rams once again scored first in the second half, and once again the Lord Jeffs promptly went on a run. This time, it was Lushanta Savadel laying it in for Farmingdale before Voigt answered with a three as the shot clock was running down. Balanced scoring from the starting five stretched the lead to 51-26 at the 12:57 mark, which was when Coach G.P. Gromacki began to substitute liberally, resting Voigt and Roberson for the game’s remainder.

Farmingdale never seriously threatened down the stretch, as first-years Haley Zwecker and Marley Giddins combined for 11 points. For the game, Crowley blocked four shots, posted a double-double and led all scorers with 18 points, while Hardy added nine points and a game-high five assists. No Lord Jeff played over 30 minutes as the team prepared for Sunday’s game.

Although the final score suggests otherwise, the Univ. of New England (25-5) kept things close for virtually the entire first half, in part by holding the Lord Jeffs to 37.5 percent shooting. The Nor’Easters made just six field goals in the first half but used 7-9 free-throw shooting to stay within touching distance of Amherst until the Lord Jeffs went on devastating runs on both sides of the break.

Amherst raced out to a 7-2 lead early on, only to see UNE retake the lead with two spectacular three-point plays. Crowley answered with a jumper to beat the shot clock before Voigt picked up a quick second foul and had to sit the remainder of the half. With Voigt sitting, the Nor’easters took the lead and made it 14-11 with 11:30 remaining on a jump shot.

Crowley stemmed the mini-run with a jumper of her own before Hardy nailed a three-pointer to regain the lead. After a UNE basket, Cheyenne Pritchard ’16 converted a wild three-point play on a bank shot. The teams traded turnovers before Zwecker, seeing significant minutes in Voigt’s absence, grabbed a rebound and went coast to coast for a layup to make it 21-16.

Zwecker continued to affect play, swiping the ball and feeding Crowley on the break for an easy two. UNE responded with a foul shot followed by a tough layup as the teams traded baskets to bring the score to 25-19 with 4:53 remaining.

Both teams went cold down the stretch, but the Lord Jeffs crucially managed to salvage some points out of the period. Zwecker hit a jumper with 1:23 left before Pritchard hit a monster three as time expired, giving the team their first double-digit lead of the day, 30-19.

The Lord Jeffs built on their momentum in the early second half, pouncing on the Nor’easters and quickly turning the game into a rout. Robertson got things started with three straight baskets down low, and after a UNE layup to respond Hardy drained a three-pointer to make the lead 18.

The Nor’easters scored the next three points, only to see Crowley score after a media timeout and Voigt hit a wide-open transition three-pointer to give Amherst a 20-point lead with just under 15 minutes still remaining.

The Lord Jeffs kept pressing, scoring 16 of the next 20 points over an eight-minute stretch to ice the game. The team was remarkably balanced on offense with five players scoring in double digits, led by Crowley’s 17 point, 11 rebound performance. Robertson notched her own double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds and added five blocks, while Hardy stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

The team shot 53.6 percent from the field in the second half and limited the Nor’easters to 19.6 percent shooting for the game. The Lord Jeffs held the rebounding edge, 51-32, and combined for10 blocks.

Amherst’s matchup with Tufts, who the Lord Jeffs defeated 54-48 in a tight regular season contest, is set for 5 p.m. on Friday at LeFrak. The winner will play either Widener or Messiah for a trip to the Final Four on Saturday, also at LeFrak.

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