Top-Seeded Jeffs Set to Host ECAC's|
March 2, 2001
AMHERST, Mass. - Thanks to an 84-48 victory over eighth-seeded Framingham State College on Wednesday night, the Amherst College women's basketball will host the semifinals and finals of this weekend's ECAC New England Division III women's basketball championship. The Jeffs, who earned the top seed in the eight-team field, will host fifth-seeded Colby College in Saturday's first semifinal, while second-seeded Wellesley College and third-seeded Plymouth State College will meet in the nightcap.
|Senior co-captain Charlotte |
Taylor has combined with
teammate Hallison Putnam '02
to average over 17 ppg
over the last eight games
ECAC New England Division III Women's Basketball Semifinals -
Saturday, March 3, 2001 at Amherst College, Amherst, MA
Game 1 -- #5 Colby College (20-7) at #1 Amherst College (23-4), 2:00 p.m.
In Saturday's first semifinal, the hosts will face conference rival Colby, who will make their third trip to Amherst's LeFrak Gymnasium in 15 days, after a 71-59 loss to the Jeffs on February 16 and a 73-61 defeat at the hands of Bowdoin College in last Friday's NESCAC semifinals at Amherst. The White Mules advanced to the ECAC semifinals on Wednesday with a convincing 75-60 victory at fourth-seeded Bates College, avenging a pair of overtime losses to the Bobcats earlier in the season. Against Bates, Colby received a stellar 21-point, five-assist performance from sophomore point guard Bianca Belcher (Lewiston, ME), with sophomore forward Sarah Walsh (Catonsville, MD) chipping in a 15-point, 14-rebound, four-assist evening. Belcher and Walsh have been the primary source of Colby's offense all season, as the only two White Mule players averaging in double figures.
In the only meeting of the season between the Jeffs and the White Mules, Walsh victimized Amherst for 21 points and 20 rebounds, but it was not enough to overcome a career-high 28-point afternoon from first-year Amherst shooting guard Shannon Russell (Shrewsbury, MA). Russell couldn't miss against Colby, connecting on nine of her 14 attempts from the field, adding a six-of-nine performance from downtown, as the Jeffs locked up the NESCAC regular season title with the 71-59 win on the last day of the regular season.
Russell has been the Jeffs' top offensive weapon throughout the 2000-01 season, helping Amherst to a school-record 23 wins by averaging 13.4 points-per-game, the lone Jeff in double-figures. The rookie has received plenty of help, however, with five other Amherst players, including four starters, averaging over seven points per outing. Leading that group is sophomore forward Sarah Walker (W. Hartford, CT), who has added NESCAC-bests in rebounds (11.7 rpg) and blocked shots (2.5 bpg) to her 8.5 point-per-game output. The Jeffs have also received stellar play down the stretch from co-captains Hallison Putnam (Lexington, KY) and Charlotte Taylor (Harvard, MA), with the pair combining to average over 17 points per game during Amherst's last eight contests, including an 11-point, seven-assist effort from Putnam and a 10-point afternoon from Taylor in the win over the White Mules.
Game 2 -- #3 Plymouth State Colege (20-7) vs. #2 Wellesley College (21-4), 4:00 p.m.
Saturday's second semifinal features one of the region's best offensive teams against one of its best defensive squads, with third-seeded Plymouth State College facing off against second-seeded Wellesley College.
The Panthers, who knocked off sixth-seeded Colby-Sawyer College by an 83-80 final in their Wednesday-night semifinal, have been averaging just under 80 points per game throughout the season, including a pair of 100-point games in wins over Johnson and Wales University (102-77) and UMass-Boston (107-80). Three different players average in double-figures for the Little East Conference squad, led by sophomore forward Courtney Albert (Hudson, NH), who is scoring just under 15 points per contest. Sophomore guard Jenn Pelletier (Derry, NH) and senior co-captain Krystyna Zagorski (Matawan, NJ) are both averaging a shade over 12 points per game for Plymouth, with Zagorski pulling down a team-best 6.7 rebounds per contest.
In Wednesday's win over Colby-Sawyer, all five Plymouth starters finished in double figures, led by a 20-point night from Zagorski and an 18-point, 10-rebound effort from Albert. Zagorski scored eight of her 20 points from the charity stripe, as Plymouth, a team that averages just under 27 trips to the line per game, sank 29 of 39 free throws en route to the 83-80 victory.
Something will have to give when the high-powered Plymouth offense meets the Wellesley defense, as the Blue have allowed opponents to average only 49.3 points per game. Wellesley, the runners-up of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), enters Saturday's semifinals with a 21-4 record, including wins in seven of their last eight contests.
Leading the offense for the Blue is the trio of sophomore forward Kelly Grover (Westbrook, ME), senior co-captain Amy Barao (Norwell, MA) and sophomore guard Kate Lyren (Wadsworth, OH), who each average over 10 points per contest. Grover has come on down the stretch for Wellesley, leading the team in scoring in four of their last six contests, including a game-high 14 points in the Blue's 56-49 win over seventh-seeded MIT in Wednesday's fourth quarterfinal. Grover has also posted just under eight rebounds per outing, second on the squad to senior co-captain Meg Barao (Norwell, MA), twin sisters with Amy, whose 9.4 boards per outing-including 13 caroms vs. MIT-lead the squad.