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Amherst College > Athletics > Women's Basketball > Jeffs Open 2001 With 53-50 Win over RPI in Naismith Classic Opener
Career-High 18 points from Bergman Lifts Jeffs to 53-50 Win over RPI
January 2, 2001

Sarah Bergman '04
Sarah Bergman '04 scored a
career-high 18 points,
leading the Jeffs to a 53-50 win
in the opening round of the
Naismith Classic.
SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts - Amherst College first-year Sarah Bergman (Shaftsbury, VT) posted a game and career-best 18 points, including two huge buckets down the stretch, as the Jeffs opened 2001 in winning fashion, holding off a late run from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Red Hawks in the opening round of the Holiday Inn/Naismith Classic, earning a 53-50 win at Springfield College on Tuesday.

With Co-captains Hallison Putnam (Lexington, KY) and Charlotte Taylor (Harvard, MA)-Amherst's only two upperclassmen-both sidelined with injuries, the Jeffs turned towards their talented crop of underclassmen, led by the forwards trio of Bergman, first-year Caitlin Farrell (Lafayette, CA) and sophomore Sarah Walker (W. Hartford, CT). The trio combined for Amherst's first 18 points of the game, including a 6-0 run to open the contest, as the Jeffs opened up an 18-11 lead at the 7:24-mark of the first half.

From there, the two teams traded buckets, including a three-pointer from RPI first-year Alyssa Comis (Sherrill, NY), before the Jeffs used two baskets each from Farrell and first-year guard Shannon Russell (Shrewsbury, MA) to close the half on an 8-3 run, taking a 30-18 lead into the break.

After shooting 13-29 from the field in the first half (44.8 percent), the Jeffs cooled off to open the second period, connecting on only two of their first 13 shot attempts. RPI took advantage of the cold Amherst shooting, putting together a 12-6 spurt to cut the Jeffs' lead in half, before three successive Amherst buckets-capped by Russell's only three-pointer of the game-extended Amherst to a 13-point lead, their largest of the game, at the 10:53 mark.

The Red Hawks responded, led by sharpshooting junior Holly Neiweem (East Hampton, CT). Neiweem drilled back-to-back three-pointers as part of a 10-1 RPI run, closing to within four of the Jeffs, 46-42, with 6:07 remaining. A pair of hoops from Bergman and a free throw from Amherst sophomore Brooke Diamond (Longmeadow, MA) extended Amherst's lead back to nine with 3:59 to go, but Red Hawk junior Melissa Coppola (Burlington, MA) catalyzed a 6-0 RPI run, closing back to within three with 1:40 to go.

The Jeffs responded, with Walker connecting on a tough 13-footer with the shot clock winding down, before RPI senior Kristen Campbell (Morrisonville, NY) connected on a pair of free throws with 33 seconds left to cut Amherst's lead back to three. RPI had a last-second chance to tie the game, but Neiweem's buzzer-beating three-point attempt was blocked by Russell, sealing the win for Amherst.

For the Jeffs, Bergman led all scorers with her best career effort, connecting on eight of her 15 shot attempts while adding eight rebounds and four steals. Ruseell finished with a solid 14 points, despite a 1-7 day from downtown, Walker netted 12, and Farrell, in her first career start, pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds-including nine in the opening half-along with six points and a block. The Red Hawks were paced by the duo of Coppola and Campbell, who posted 12 and 10 points, respectively. Comis added nine points on 4-5 shooting for RPI, who falls to 4-2 on the season with the loss.

With the win, Amherst, which matched its best-ever start with the win over RPI, improves to 7-1, advancing to Wednesday's 5:30 p.m. Naismith Classic championship game where they will face host Springfield, a 79-48 victor over Manhattanville College in the day's other contest. The Pride enter the game with a 6-2 record on the season, and a 5-0 record all-time against Amherst, with the last meeting coming in 1998. The Red Hawks face Manhattanville in the tournament consolation game, a 1:00 p.m. start at Springfield's Blake Arena.
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