Stellar Second Half Helps W-Hoops to Share of First Place with 71-56 Win at Conn.|
February 10, 2001
NEW LONDON, Conn. - First-year Amherst College women's basketball guard Shannon Russell (Shrewsbury, MA) scored 17 of her team-high 20 points after halftime, helping the visiting Jeffs break open what had been a two-point game at halftime en route to a 71-56 victory at NESCAC-foe Connecticut College on Saturday afternoon.
|Shannon Russell '04 scored |
17 of her team-high 20
points in the second half
After an exhausting 58-55 win at Wesleyan University on Friday night, Amherst Head Coach Billy McBride used the first half of Saturday's game to rest many of his starters, turning to the Jeffs' second unit for most of the offense. The Amherst bench responded, sparked by stellar defensive play from first-year guard Ana Yarawamai (Waimea, HI). A pair of Yarawamai steals led to fast-break buckets for the Jeffs, as Amherst opened up a 23-17 advantage with 5:11 left in the period.
On Senior Day at Conn, the Camels turned to co-captain Jessica Nowlin (St. Paul, MN) for most of their first-half offense, and the forward responded, connecting on four of six field-goal attempts and adding a pair of free throws to help the hosts cut the Amherst lead to two, 27-25, going into halftime.
In the second half, with Amherst's starters back in, Nowlin picked up right where she left off, connecting on two jumpers in the opening minutes. A three-pointer from sophomore guard Sarah Frazier (Hadley, MA) put the hosts ahead, 30-29, before Russell rolled off five straight points, including her second three-pointer of the game, to put the Jeffs ahead 34-30. Camel sophomore Anna Johnson (Barrington, RI) answered with a trey of her own, before Nowlin's bucket at the 15:27-mark put Conn ahead, 35-34.
That would be Conn's last lead of the game, however, as Amherst re-took the lead on a jumper from senior Co-captain Charlotte Taylor (Harvard, MA) less than one minute later. On the Jeffs' ensuing possession, Taylor found Russell on the right wing with a skip pass, and Russell drained another three-pointer to put the Jeffs ahead by four. Four straight Camel points, capped by another Nowlin jumper, tied the game at 39, before Amherst broke the game open with a 23-6 run.
The run began with a four-point possession, as sophomore forward Sarah Walker (W. Hartford, CT) made the front end of a two-shot foul, before first-year Sarah Bergman (Shaftsbury, VT) grabbed an offensive rebound on the missed second attempt, kicking the ball out to Russell for her third three-pointer in as many minutes. Just over a minute later, Walker found Taylor in the left corner on a kick-out, and the senior drained a three-pointer to extend the lead to seven, 46-39. After a Taylor jumper, Frazier stopped the bleeding with another three-pointer to close the Camels to within six, but Walker and Russell combined for 12 of the Jeffs' next 14 points, as Amherst opened up a 62-45 lead with 5:46 to play.
Nowlin did her best to keep Conn in the game, but Amherst's interior defense, led by Walker and first-year Caitlin Farrell (Lafayette, CA) was too much for the smaller Camels, as the Jeffs finished with a season-high 10 blocked shots, including five from Walker. Connecticut first-year Erin Shields (Savannah, GA), who finished with 13 points, connected on her only three-pointer of the game with 15.6 seconds left to make the final margin a little closer, with the Jeffs prevailing by a 71-56 final.
For Amherst, Russell and Walker led the way, combining for 35 of the Jeffs' 71 points. Russell finished with a team-high 20 points, 17 of which came after halftime, while Walker finished with another terrific all-around effort, posting 15 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. Junior co-captain Hallison Putnam (Lexington, KY) was the one other Amherst player in double-figures, finishing with 10 points, while sophomore point guard Sara Bozorg (Amherst, MA) finished with seven assists and four steals, despite playing a season-low 20 minutes. The trio of Bozorg, Putnam and Yarawamai keyed one of Amherst's most efficient offensive days of the season, as the Jeffs turned the ball over only 10 times, including a season-low one giveaway in the second half.
Connecticut was paced by Nowlin, who finished with a game-high 21 points on eight-of-15 shooting. The senior added a team-high six rebounds, as the Camels outrebounded the Jeffs, 40-39, despite Amherst's 16-6 edge on the offensive boards. Shields was the only other player in double figures for Conn, who falls to 5-15 on the season, 0-7 in the NESCAC.
The Jeffs improve to 19-3 on the season, 6-1 in the NESCAC. The 19-3 record is the best-ever mark through 22 games for an Amherst team, as Amherst moved into a tie for first-place in the NESCAC, thanks to Colby College's 65-58 win at Bowdoin College. The Jeffs, who host Bowdoin and Colby next weekend in match-ups featuring the league's top three teams, guaranteed themselves a home game with the win over Conn, extending their season-long win streak to seven games in the process.
Amherst has now won 12 of its last 13 contests, and is one win away from matching the 1987-88 squad for highest single-season win total (20) in school history.
Game Box Score