Amherst to meet Bates, Bowdoin to face Colby in NESCAC Semifinals|
February 21, 2001
AMHERST, Mass. - With all three of the higher seeds avoiding the upset bug in
Tuesday night's quarterfinals, the semifinals of the inaugural New England Small
College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Women's Basketball Tournament will feature
three Maine schools and host Amherst College. The top-seeded Jeffs, who received a
first-round bye after finishing the regular season with an 8-1 conference mark, host
fourth-seeded Bates College, while second-seeded Colby College battles third-seeded
Bowdoin College in the nightcap on Friday evening.
Game 1 -- Bates at Amherst | Game 2 --
Bowdoin vs. Colby | Other Info. (incl. Ticket Prices)
NESCAC Women's Basketball Semifinals - Friday, February 23, 2001, Amherst College, Amherst, Mass.
Game One -- #4 Bates College (18-7) at #1 Amherst College (21-3), 6:00 p.m.
Friday night's first semifinal features the 1999-00 NESCAC champions-fourth-seeded Bates-and the team that has to be the league's surprise squad of the year, the top-seeded Jeffs. Amherst, returning only two upperclassmen, tore through the NESCAC after a league-opening 81-79 loss to arch-rival Williams College, rolling off eight straight conference victories-including a 58-46 win over the Bobcats on January 26-to claim the top seed and a first-round bye in the seven-team conference tournament.
Bates has been just as hot down the stretch, picking up their seventh-consecutive win with their 64-53 victory over fifth-seeded Williams in Tuesday night's quarterfinals. Since their loss to the Jeffs, the Bobcats have won nine of 10 contests, though they haven't left the state of Maine since their trip to Amherst.
|Sara Bozorg '03 netted a|
game-high 14 points
Amherst's 58-46 win over
Bates on January 26
Leading the way for the Bobcats is senior co-captain Kate McLaughlin (Laconia, NH), a strong candidate for conference player of the year honors. McLaughlin, who scored a game-high 20 points in only 20 minutes of action in Tuesday's win over Williams, has averaged just under 16 points per game for the season, adding a team-best 8.3 boards per outing to lead the Bobcats. Two other Bates starters-sophomore forward Carla Flaherty (Gorham, ME) and junior Kate Dockery (New York, NY)-are averaging in double figures, with the pair combining for just over 21 points per contest. First-year forward Lauren Dubois (Beverly, MA) has given the Bobcats an impact player of the bench, as Bates, an NCAA Tournament team one year ago, has once again been amongst the NESCAC's elite.
The Jeffs, who set a new school record for wins in a single season with their top-seed-clinching 71-59 victory over Colby last Saturday, enter Friday night's semifinal on a nine-game winning streak, having posted victories in 14 of their last 15 games.
Leading the balanced Amherst attack is first-year guard Shannon Russell (Shrewsbury, MA), who scored a career-high 28 points against Colby, including a six-for-nine performance from behind the three-point line. Russell, who was named NESCAC Player of the Week and New England Rookie of the Week for her role in Amherst's weekend sweep of Bowdoin and Colby, is the only Amherst player averaging in double figures, putting up just under 14 points per game. Five other Amherst players average seven or more points per game, including sophomore forward Sarah Walker (W. Hartford, CT), who is posting a league-best 11.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in addition to her 8.6 points per game. Sophomore point guard Sara Bozorg (Amherst, MA) leads the NESCAC in assists (6.4 per game) and steals (4.1 per game), while first-year forward Sarah Bergman (Shaftsbury, VT) is second on the team in both scoring (9.8 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg).
In the two teams' only meeting of the year, Bozorg led the way with a 14-point, eight-assist evening as the Jeffs used an 18-0 run midway through the second half to turn what had been a four-point Bates lead into a 14-point Amherst advantage with 5:44 to go. The Bobcats rallied, closing to within eight on a McLaughlin bucket just over the three-minute mark, but the Jeffs iced the game on the foul line, converting all six of their charity tosses in the final two minutes (and hitting on 14 of 15 second-half attempts) to preserve the 58-46 win, their first-ever victory over the Bobcats. For Amherst, Walker finished with a 10-point, 15-rebound night to go along with Bozorg's stellar effort, and Bergman added 10 rebounds to her seven points, as the Jeffs enjoyed in overwhelming 50-29 rebounding edge over the smaller Bobcats. Bates was paced by Dockery, who finished with 12 points, and senior co-captain Katy Dutille (Lebanon, NH), who added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Friday night's semifinal will be the seventh meeting all-time between the two NESCAC foes, with Bates enjoying a 5-1 edge in the series, including an 81-54 pasting of the Jeffs on their way to the NCAA Tournament one year ago.
Game Two -- #3 Bowdoin College (17-7) at #2 Colby College (19-6), 8:00
There will be no need for introductions before Friday's second semifinal, where the Bowdoin College Polar Bears will face the White Mules of Colby College for the third time this season, with the two rivals each boasting wins on the other's home floor during the regular season.
Third-seeded Bowdoin, who advanced to Friday's semifinals with a 58-47 victory over sixth-seeded Middlebury College on Tuesday night, have posted back-to-back wins after a stretch that saw them drop three of four, including a 65-58 loss to Colby on February 10.
The balanced Polar Bear offense has been anchored by a pair of standout scorers, sophomore forward Kristi Royer (Lewiston, ME) and first-year guard Lora Trenkle (Surry, ME). Royer and Trenkle, who have averaged 14.3 and 13.4 points per game, respectively, were true to their averages in Tuesday's win over Middlebury, with Royer posting 13 points and nine rebounds and Trenkle chipping in a game-high 14 points. Junior Polar Bear tri-captain Jessie Mayol (Westbrook, ME) added 13 points for Bowdoin, who opened up a 36-18 halftime lead with stellar defensive play, holding Middlebury to a 3-26 (11.5 percent) performance from the field.
|Bowdoin sophomore Kristi Royer|
has averaged a team-best
14.3 points per game for the
third-seeded Polar Bears
For the season, the trio has provided the bulk of Bowdoin's offense, with Mayol handing out a team-high 81 assists and recording 55 steals on the season. Royer, whose eight rebounds per game are a team-best, has also been one of the league's best shooters from the field, converting on 52.2 percent of her field-goal attempts (120-230). Trenkle isn't far behind the sophomore, shooting just under 47 percent from the field herself, as the Polar Bears are one of only two NESCAC squads shooting over 40 percent from the field as a team.
Colby, the NESCAC's third-best shooting team, has been one of the league's toughest teams all year thanks to the duo of sophomore forward Sarah Walsh (Catonsville, MD) and classmate Bianca Belcher (Lewiston, ME). Walsh has averaged a double-double throughout the 2000-01 season, including a 21-point, 20-rebound game last Saturday against Amherst, while Belcher has also become a scoring threat in her sophomore campaign, averaging in double-figures at just over 10 points per contest. The Mules have also received stellar offensive play from sophomore sharp-shooter Jasmine Ashe (Cumberland, ME) and senior co-captain Jen Hallee (Nashua, NH), who have combined to contribute over 15 points per contest, including a team-best 39 three-pointers from Ashe.
In the two teams' first meeting of the season, Bowdoin's 68-65 win at Colby on January 16, a 20-point, 11-rebound performance from Royer helped Bowdoin overcome Colby's 36-31 halftime lead, as the Polar Bears shot their way to the three-point win, connecting on 25 of 47 (53.2 percent) field-goal attempts, including a 65 percent effort in the second half. Ashe's 16 points, including four three-pointers, paced Colby, but Bowdoin had too many weapons, receiving an 18-point night from Trenkle and a 12-point outing from sophomore guard Nicole Fava (Londonderry, NH).
In the return trip on February 10, the Mules forced a three-way split for first place with a 65-58 victory in Brunswick, led by a stellar 16-point afternoon from rookie Carli Parisella (Bedford, MA). Hallee and Belcher joined Parisella in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively, and Walsh added eight points and 13 rebounds as the Mules held Bowdoin to an 18-55 (32.7 percent) day from the field, spoiling a 13-point, 10-rebound effort by Royer. The Colby win, coupled with Amherst's 71-56 victory at Connecticut College, forged a three-way tie atop the NESCAC entering the final weekend of the regular season, in which the Jeffs swept Bowdoin and Colby to capture first place and the number-one seed in the conference tournament. Between the loss to Bowdoin and the loss to Amherst, the Mules rolled off wins in nine of 10 contests, with their only other blemish coming in a double-overtime thriller against Bates.
Other Information (incl. Ticket Info.)
The winners of Friday's two semifinals will meet in Saturday evening's conference
championship game, a 7:00 p.m. tip at Amherst's LeFrak Gymnasium. The champion of
the NESCAC Tournament receives the conference's automatic bid to the Division III
NCAA Tournament. It would be the first such bid for Amherst and Colby, the second
for Bowdoin (who earned a berth in the 1998-99 tournament) and the fifth-consecutive
bid for the Bobcats, who lost to Clark University, 63-59, in the NCAA Regional
Semifinals one year ago.
Tickets for Friday's doubleheader are not available in advance, and will be available at the doors to LeFrak Gymnasium beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. General admission tickets to both games are $5, while students and children under the age of 18 will be admitted for $2. Media personnel interested in obtaining credentials should contact Steve Vladeck, Amherst's Assistant Sports Information Director, via e-mail or at (413) 542-3428.