Photo by Charlie Quigg '09
Junior Shaina Pollack scored 15 points to go along with eight assists and five rebounds.

Women's Basketball Wins Season Opener

November 18, 2006

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College women’s basketball team opened its season – and the Amherst College Women’s Hoops Classic – in style Saturday night, beating visiting University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth 71-50. The Jeffs move their record to 1-0 on the young season; UMass, meanwhile, drops to 0-1.

Amherst started off sluggish. UMass broke out with an eight-point lead to start the game, before sophomore forward Kerry O’Laughlin (Stow, MA) drove for a layup to put the Jeffs on the board. Junior forward Anne-Claire Roesch (Westport, CT) followed up with a jumper three minutes in, and first-year forward Samantha Swenson (Rockaway Park, NY) forced a UMass timeout with a beautiful layup off a junior guard Shaina Pollack (Great Neck, NY) dish.

Amherst kept it close until the middle of the half, when Pollack lasered the ball to O’Laughlin on a baseline-to-baseline sprint. UMass’s Elise Robidoux fouled O’Laughlin when she went in for a layup. O’Laughlin missed her shot from the line, but got the ball back just in time to sink a majestic three and give Amherst a 22-16 lead. The Corsairs fought back, though, and held Amherst down until they could tie the score at 23 off a Robidoux jumper from the top of the key. The score knotted again at 25, before a junior forward Stefanie Reiff (Hinsdale, IL) basket paced Amherst to a 30-27 lead. UMass tightened its grip again, though, and took a one-point lead back on a layup in the last seconds of the first half.

Amherst took a 44-39 advantage off buckets from sophomore forward Yasmine Harik (New York, NY) and Pollack, before Corsair Ashley Chard dumped a trey to keep the score within two. The Jeffs worked their lanes again, though: sophomore guard Amanda Otieno (Gloucester, MA) dished to Swensen, who drew a foul. Swensen made one of her foul shots, pacing the Jeffs to a five-point lead. O’Loughlin followed up with a layup and one, and then sunk two more shots from the charity stripe a minute later. Amherst went on a six-point, 60-44 run and put serious breathing room between itself and UMass. Pollack capped the breakaway with a two-point show, before Amanda Poniatowski fired back with a UMass three-pointer. Pollack threaded another jumper with four minutes left, and then found Swensen for a layup thirty seconds later. The Jeffs cobbled another seven-point run together and ended the game on a Roesch layup.

All told, Pollack grabbed five rebounds and tallied 15 points to complement her eight assists. Swensen offered a double-double in her Amherst debut with 14 points and a team-high 13 rebounds. She also helped out with three assists. O’Laughlin led all scorers with a game-high 19 points, and Otieno made her bid with six dishes on the night. Reiff and Harik, meanwhile, came up with six and four rebounds, respectively. Vasiliki Palantzas threw a significant hat in the ring with a game-high 18 UMass rebounds. Poniatowski locked in 12 points for the Corsairs, and Chard added 13 ticks and six rebounds.

Middlebury College downed Piedmont College (Ga.) in the nightcap, 69-63.

Amherst returns to the court Sunday afternoon at 4:00, when it hosts Piedmont in the second day of the classic.