Defense Leads Women's Basketball to Key 50-44 Conference Win Over Bowdoin|
February 16, 2001
AMHERST, Mass. - First-year Amherst guard Shannon Russell (Shrewsbury, MA) scored 13 of her team-high 15 points in the first half, before calmly sinking both ends of a two-shot foul with 26.9 seconds left to help the Jeffs ice a critical 50-44 NESCAC victory over visiting Bowdoin College on Friday night. Sophomore Jeff forward Sarah Walker (W. Hartford, CT) pulled down two of her game-high 14 rebounds in the final 8.9 seconds, as the Jeffs reached the 20-win plateau for only the second time in school history.
|Sophomore forward Sarah Walker |
pulled pulled down two of
her game-high 14 rebounds
in the final 8.9 seconds
Bowdoin sophomore Kristi Royer (Lewiston, ME), in what was to become a recurring theme for the evening, rolled off five straight points for the visiting Polar Bears to open the game, before Russell responded with her first of three first-half three-pointers. The Jeffs would eventually tie the game at 15 on a three-pointer from senior co-captain Charlotte Taylor (Harvard, MA) at the 8:23-mark, as the teams fought to three ties in the first half, including a 22-22 dead-lock at the 3:36-mark. Down the stretch, however, the Jeffs heated up from the field, connecting on six of their last seven field goal attempts in the half. Russell, who finished the half with 13 points on five-of-seven shooting (including a three-for-four effort from downtown) helped the hosts close the half on a 10-2 run, as Amherst took a 31-23 lead into intermission.
In the second half, things got ugly, as both teams came out ice-cold from the field. After a free-throw from Amherst sophomore Sara Bozorg (Amherst, MA) gave the Jeffs their biggest lead of the game at 32-23, Royer went on a personal 7-0 run, closing the Polar Bears to within two, 32-30, with 15:40 left. A pair of free-throws from junior Amherst co-captain Hallison Putnam (Lexington, KY) was met by another Royer bucket, before Jeff first-year Sarah Bergman (Shaftsbury, VT) connected on Amherst's first field goal of the half at the 10:55-mark to put the Jeffs up by four.
From there, the Amherst defense stepped it up, forcing turnovers on six of the Polar Bears' next nine possessions. All told, Amherst held Bowdoin scoreless for 14 consecutive possessions, as Royer's field goal at the 13:40-mark was the last Polar Bear point until first-year Christina Fugate (Glenview, IL) sank a free-throw with 5:13 left. Junior Bowdoin guard Jessie Mayol (Westbrook, ME) followed up the Fugate free throw with a short jumper on the Polar Bears' next possession, before a three-point play from Walker at the 4:12-mark extended the Jeff lead back to nine at 44-35.
The Jeffs led by seven inside the two-minute mark, before the Polar Bears mounted one last rally. Mayol drained a three with 1:46 left to cut the Amherst edge to 45-41, before an Amherst turnover and a pair of free throws from Polar Bear sophomore Nicole Fava (Londonderry, NH) closed the gap to 45-43 with 48.5 seconds to go. The Jeffs turned it over again on their next possession, but Russell came down with the rebound of a missed three-pointer from Mayol with 26.9 ticks left, and sank both ends of the two-shot foul to put the Jeffs back ahead by four.
|Sophomore point guard Sara Bozorg|
anchored Amherst's stellar defensive
unit with a game-high five steals
Bowdoin first-year Lora Trenkle (Surry, ME), who entered the game averaging 13.4 points per contest, sank one of two free throws on the Polar Bears' ensuing possession for only her fourth point of the night, before Walker connected on three of four free throws in the final 8.9 seconds to account for the 50-44 final.
The Jeffs, who won despite shooting a season-low 3-23 in the second half (13.0 percent), were paced by the duo of Russell and Walker, who combined for 25 of Amherst's 50 points. Walker added 14 rebounds and five blocked shots, and Bozorg added five steals and a pair of assists to her seven-point night. Royer led all scorers with 19 points for Bowdoin, pulling down a team-high 13 rebounds in the process, but the visitors shot only 14-43 from the field (32.6 percent), turning in their lowest offensive output since a season-opening 61-43 loss to Hope College. Mayol was the lone other Bowdoin player in double figures with 11 points and a game-high four assists, but she also added five of Bowdoin's 27 costly turnovers, along with five from Trenkle, who missed her last nine attempts from the field to finish with four points.
With the win, the Jeffs reach the 20-win mark for only the second time in school history, with tomorrow afternoon's regular-season finale against Colby College still left on the schedule. The Jeffs improve to 20-3, 7-1 in the NESCAC, and enter tomorrow's game against Colby tied with the White Mules for first place in the conference, after Colby's 80-66 win over Trinity College on Friday night. Thanks to the Jeffs' win over Bowdoin and Colby's 65-58 win at Bowdoin last Saturday, the winner of tomorrow's Amherst/Colby game is guaranteed the number-one seed-and a first-round bye-in next week's inaugural NESCAC tournament. Bowdoin, who falls to 15-7 (6-2 NESCAC) finishes its regular season at Trinity tomorrow afternoon.
Game Box Score