Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. - Buoyed by a dominant first half, the 10th-ranked Amherst women's basketball team cruised to a 79-41 victory over NESCAC rival Middlebury College.
Extending their win streak over the Panthers to 11 dating back to the 2002-03 season, the Jeffs improved to 22-2 (9-1 NESCAC), while dropping Middlebury to 7-17 (1-9 NESCAC) on the year. With the victory, Amherst locked-up the No. 2 seed in the upcoming NESCAC Championship and will host No. 7 Hamilton in quarterfinal action on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m.
Shooting an efficient 51.5 percent from the field (17-of-33), including a 50.0 percent (5-of-10) clip from long distance over the first 20 minutes, Amherst held the Panthers without a field goal for a stretch of 8:27 in the first half, outscoring the visitors 19-6 during that span.
Trailing 4-3 in the early going, the Jeffs reeled off a 17-3 run over seven-plus minutes, going up 20-7 on a Jaimie Renner '17 three pointer. Sarah Marcus '14 momentarily stemmed the tide with a layup at 9:28, but the Panthers would not net another field goal until the last minute of the frame.
Beginning with an Ali Doswell '17 trey on the Jeffs' next possession, the Purple & White rattled off 19 unanswered over 5:18, building a 30-point margin on a Rachel Boyette '17 bucket. Scarlett Kirk '14 ended the Panther dry-spell with four-straight free throws inside of the two and a half minute mark before Laura Lowry '14 drove the lane and ended the field goal drought with 1:01 on the clock.
Down 28 at the intermission, Elizabeth Knox '17 scored the first points of the second half on a jumper at 18:28. The Jeffs responded with 17-7 run over the next 6:20, going up 60-24 on a Marley Giddins '16 layup. Less than a minute later, Kirk connected down low, but the Jeffs came right back with an 8-1 spurt, building a comfortable 41-point cushion on a pair of Boyette free throws at 9:07.
Falling two points shy of matching a career-high, Doswell led all scorers with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Also hitting 4-of-8 threes, the first-year added seven rebounds and four assists. Giddins and Haley Zwecker '16 each finished with 11 points, with the duo combining for 10 rebounds.
Converting 30 of its 58 attempts from the floor (51.7 percent), the Jeffs held Middlebury to just 14-of-48 shooting (29.2 percent), including a 2-of-9 (22.2 percent) showing from behind the arc. Kirk paced the Panthers with 12 points and seven boards, while Lowry was the only other Middlebury player to score in double digits with 10.
Controlling the low post, Amherst held a 41-31 rebounding edge and 40-20 advantage in points in the paint. Helping to force 15 Panther miscues, the Jeffs finished with an 18-2 margin in points off turnovers, while the Amherst bench held a decisive 43-1 scoring edge over the Middlebury reserves.