March 3, 2012

Amherst Outlasts Babson in NCAA Women's Basketball

Courtesy Amherst Sports Information

AMHERST, Mass. - Marcia Voigt '13 (Skillman, N.J.) netted 13 second-half points to help lift the top-ranked Amherst women's basketball team to a 61-48 victory over Babson College in the second round of the NCAA Championship.

Eliminating Babson (26-3) from the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season, Amherst improved to 19-4 in championship play, while moving to 29-0 overall on the year. The Jeffs, who have now won 48 consecutive games, including 65-straight at LeFrak, advance to the Round of 16 for the fifth year in a row, where they face York College (Pa.).

Hoping to get off to a fast start, Babson jumped out to an early 5-0 lead on consecutive Kathleen King '12 baskets. Amherst responded with an 11-4 run, going up two on a Caroline Stedman '12 (Walpole, Mass.) layup at 14:57.

Clinging onto a one point lead after a Lem Atanga McCormick '12 (Chicago, Ill.) bucket just under the nine minute mark, King buried a jumper to help Babson regain the lead. Amherst's Jackie Renner '12 (Newton, Mass.) answered with a layup off a Kim Fiorentino '12 (Holmdel, N.J.) steal to make it 21-20, but the Beavers went right back to King on the ensuing possession, as the senior drew a foul on the low block before going 2-for-2 from the charity stripe to put the visitors back on top.

Netting the game's next four points, Amherst built a three-point cushion on a Fiorentino jumper with 5:00 to go in the half, but Babson again battled back, pulling even at 25-25 on a Sarah Collins '13 free-throw. Still tied with just nine seconds left in the first, Stedman pulled up for two, knocking down a jumper from the elbow to give the Jeffs a 29-27 lead heading into the intermission.

Hoping to regain the momentum, Babson netted the first four points coming out of the break, going up 31-29 on a Collins layup at 18:20. Trading baskets over the next three minutes of action, the Jeffs regained the lead on a Stedman layup that made it 38-36.

With King cutting the Amherst advantage to 41-40 with a pair of free throws inside of 13 minutes, Atanga McCormick and Marcia Voigt '13 (Skillman, N.J.) buried back-to-back layups to put Amherst up five.

After a Nicki Wurdeman '12 bucket made it 45-42, Voigt calmly hit another jumper from just above the free throw line before first year Megan Robertson (Tewksbury, Mass.) drained a three from the right wing to stretch the Lord Jeff to eight.

Looking to keep pace, Babson responded with four straight points, cutting the deficit to four on a Wurdeman turnaround in the lane at the 4:40 mark, but Voigt again came up with a timely basket, driving to the hoop for two to make it 52-46.

Holding onto a four point cushion with just over three minutes remaining, Robertson spun into the paint, extending the Amherst lead to 54-48 before a Voigt trey from the left wing pushed the margin to nine with 1:32 left. Stedman then hit a layup with 42 seconds on the clock before knocking down a pair from the line to seal the Lord Jeff win.

A day after shooting 55.1 percent (27-for-49) in an opening round match-up with Bridgewater State, the Beavers managed to hit just 29 percent (18-of-62) of their shots against a stingy Lord Jeff defense, including a 9-for-36 (25.0 percent) clip in the second half. Amherst was especially locked in on the defensive end down the stretch, not allowing a point over the final 4:06, while outscoring Babson 9-0 during that span.

Matching a team-high with 15 points, Stedman moved into fifth-place all-time on Amherst's scoring list, passing former Lord Jeff Debra Levy '86 (1,180) with 1,185 career points. Robertson added nine points and 10 boards, while Fiorentino and Atanga McCormick combined for 16 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks.

King led all scorers with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Wurdeman had 13 points, 12 boards and three blocks. Collins chipped in with 12 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, while going 5-for-10 from the floor.

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