Second Half Rally Advances Jeffs to NESCAC Championship Game|
February 23, 2001
AMHERST, Mass. - After weathering a game-opening 16-0 run by fourth-seeded Bates College in Friday night's NESCAC Women's Basketball semifinals, top-seeded Amherst College rallied to knock off the Bobcats, 57-53. With the win, the Jeffs advance to Saturday night's NESCAC Championship game, where they will face third-seeded Bowdoin College, 73-61 victors over second-seeded Colby College in Friday's nightcap.
|Senior co-captain Charlotte Taylor|
had a career-high 11 rebounds
to go along with her 12 points
The Bobcats, who dropped a 58-46 decision in LeFrak Gymnasium in their regular-season meeting with the Jeffs, opened the game on fire, connecting on six of their first nine field-goal attempts, including a pair of three-pointers from junior guard Kate Dockery (New York, NY). With Amherst misfiring on each of their first six attempts from the field, the Bates shooting was good enough for a 16-0 lead at the 13:58-mark. Jeff senior co-captain Charlotte Taylor (Harvard, MA) finally stopped the bleeding with a three-pointer 29 seconds later, but a pair of Bobcat jumpers opened up a 20-3 Bates lead 8:41 into the game.
From there, Amherst spent the rest of the half chipping away at the Bates lead, led by sophomore point guard Sara Bozorg (Amherst, MA). Bozorg hit on three of her four first-half shot attempts, handing out assists on three of the Jeffs' five other field goals, as Amherst closed to within nine, 31-22, by the break, despite shooting only eight-for-28 (28.6 percent) from the field.
The Jeffs, trailing at the half for the 10th time in 25 games, wasted little time after the second period started, coming out of the gates in much the same way as the Bobcats had opened the game. A pair of buckets each from first-year guard Shannon Russell (Shrewsbury, MA) and from sophomore forward Sarah Walker (W. Hartford, CT) and a Taylor jumper helped Amherst take a 32-31 lead 2:37 after intermission, before Bates sophomore Carla Flaherty (Gorham, ME) connected on a jumper to give the lead back to the visitors. Flaherty's bucket, however, would be Bates' only points during the first 5:35 of the half, as the Jeffs ran off eight straight points after the jumper to take a 40-33 lead at the 14:35-mark. All told, the half-opening run was an 18-2 surge for the hosts, keyed, in part, by a terrific effort off the bench from sophomore forward Brooke Diamond (Longmeadow, MA).
Bates responded with five straight points, including a Lisa Golobski (Methuen, MA) three-pointer, to close to within one, before a bucket from Amherst first-year Caitlin Farrell (Lafayette, CA) extended Amherst's lead back to three. From there, the two defenses took over, as neither team was able to mount any sustained offensive pressure. The teams traded buckets for 10 minutes, before a pair of free throws from Bobcat senior Kate McLaughlin (Laconia, NH) cut the Jeff lead to two, 47-45, with 4:21 to play.
Back-to-back baskets by Taylor and Russell extended the lead back to six for the hosts, before a jumper from Bates first-year Laura Dubois (Beverly, MA) cut the deficit back to four with 2:29 remaining. Down the stretch, however, the Jeffs were flawless from the free-throw line, connecting on all six of their attempts from the charity stripe in the final two minutes. Junior co-captain Hallison Putnam (Lexington, KY) connected on four straight, before Russell iced the game with a pair from the line with 9.4 seconds remaining to extend the Amherst edge to the final score of 57-53, after a McLaughlin three-pointer had cut the gap to two entering the final minute.
For the Jeffs, Russell led the way with a game-high 16 points, with Taylor finishing as the lone other player in double-figures, recording her second-career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Walker pulled down 12 rebounds along with her eight points before fouling out, and Bozorg added a seven-point, seven-assist night in the win.
The Bobcats, who shot a paltry 8-40 (20.0 percent) from the field after halftime, didn't help their cause from the foul line, connecting on only five of 15 attempts on the night, a season-low 33.3 percent. Dockery's 13 points was a team-high, and McLaughlin finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, but finished with a four-for-16 shooting effort, as Amherst held Bates to its second-worst shooting day of the season, with the visitors finishing 21-69 (30.4 percent) from the field.
With the win, their school-record 22nd of the season, and 10th in a row, the top-seeded Jeffs (22-3) advance to Saturday's NESCAC championship game, where they will host the third-seeded Bowdoin College Polar Bears, 73-61 victors over second-seeded Colby College in the nightcap of Friday's semifinal doubleheader. Amherst defeated Bowdoin, 50-44, in the teams' only meeting of the regular season last Friday night in Amherst. Bates, the 1999-2000 NESCAC champions, fall to 18-8 with the loss, and are all-but assured of having their streak of five-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances snapped.
Full game box score and play-by-play