Women's Basketball Wins Tip-Off Tournament
Issue   |   Tue, 11/27/2012 - 23:28

Women’s basketball opened the season in convincing style over the break, beating Brooklyn and 25th-ranked William Paterson to win the Amherst Tip-Off Tournament before coasting to a 30-point blowout of Mount Holyoke.

The Lady Jeffs went into their season opener ranked 15th nationally and coming off their fourth straight Final Four appearance. The team lost four starters from last year’s squad to graduation, but it hardly seemed to matter against Brooklyn as the Jeffs built a 15-point halftime lead and went on to win 67-42.

Megan Robertson ’15, last year’s NESCAC Rookie of the Year, got things started early with six points in the first five minutes as Amherst raced out to a 13-3 lead. Brooklyn fought back and kept the game close throughout the first half, using a three-pointer to pull within two with 6:54 left in the half. That was the closest Brooklyn would get, as the Bulldogs went ice cold and finished the half on 3-12 shooting. Amherst took advantage, scoring 15 points in the last six minutes to build a comfortable lead going into halftime.

The second half saw more strong defense from Amherst, as the team limited Brooklyn to 5-26 shooting. Co-captains Bridget Crowley ’13 and Marcia Voigt ’13 combined for the team’s first 12 points and ran the lead to 50-29 with 13:40 to play. The team was never threatened down the stretch, allowing coach G.P. Gromacki to use all of his players. The Jeffs shot 42.9 percent from the field, outrebounded Brookyln 58-40 and limited the Bulldogs to a 22.4 percent shooting percentage. Crowley recorded 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead the team, while Robertson narrowly missed her own double-double after scoring 12 and grabbing nine boards.

The competition was much stiffer than the 88-61 final score suggests in the tournament’s championship game, as William Paterson jumped out to an early 13-point lead and refused to go away. The game was tied as late as four minutes into the second half, but the Jeffs used a 25-5 run to ensure victory. Amherst shot 45.1 percent in the first half but struggled to hang on to the ball, with six turnovers in the first six minutes. William Paterson took advantage and led by 10 with 8:24 left before Marley Giddins ’16 dragged Amherst back into the game, scoring 10 of the Lord Jeffs’ final 17 points. A Cheyenne Pritchard ’16 layup with 16 seconds remaining gave Amherst their first lead since 2-0, as the team went into halftime up 30-28.

The second half began as a back-and-forth affair, with Amherst using a pair of Jasmine Hardy ’13 three-pointers to stay close. Up two with 15:28 to play, the team stepped up their offensive game as five different players contributed to score 25 points in just over seven minutes.

Giddins, Savannah Holness ’15 and Sally Marx ’13 closed out the game for the Lord Jeffs, with Marx making use of limited playing time to score 10 points in just over two minutes. Robertson led the team with 17 points on 8-11 shooting and added 15 rebounds, while Hardy shot four of five from three-point distance to add 14 points. Giddins was huge off the bench, going for 18 points and 12 rebounds to record her first collegiate double-double in just 17 minutes. William Paterson made 50 percent of their three-point attempts in the first half but went just 1-for-11 from deep in the second half.

Despite the team’s early struggles, Robertson felt that the game was a nice learning experience for the team. “We faced some adversity when we found ourselves down in the first half, but it gave us experience in that we could not get down on ourselves,” said Robertson, who won tournament MVP honors. “Fortunately, we were able to find our rhythm and turn the tide of the game.”

Against Mount Holyoke, the team once again found themselves in a close game at halftime and then proceeded to break the game open. This time, however, the Jeffs did it with defense, allowing just 13 second-half points and holding the Lyons to 20 percent shooting. Mount Holyoke was able to keep the score close in the first half as Amherst shot 33 percent from the field, but with no players over six feet, the Lyons had no answer for the six-foot-two Crowley, who led the Jeffs with 10 points. The team’s improved second-half shooting (45.2 percent) combined with strong defense doomed the Lyons. The Jeffs had nine players score in an all-around solid effort, previewing the squad’s depth.

“[Against Mount Holyoke] we had balanced scoring amongst the team, which was very exciting since it shows that everyone on the team is a threat,” Robertson said.

Robertson’s strong contributions during tournament play didn’t go unnoticed, as she picked up NESCAC Player of the Week honors. She averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds over the two games and was quite efficient around the rim, with a 69.6 shooting percentage.

The Jeffs travel to Skidmore on Saturday before playing 20th-ranked Emmanuel on Tuesday. “It has been a good start to the season and we are definitely looking forward to the contests we have coming in the next two weeks,” Robertson said.