Contact: Ben Badua
MEDFORD, Mass. - The Amherst women's basketball team fell short in its quest for a fifth-consecutive NESCAC title, falling to top-seeded Tufts in the NESCAC Championship game at Cousens Gymnasium, 62-46.
Dropping to 24-3 overall on the season, the Jeffs must now wait for word regarding a possible at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA Division III Championship when the 64-team field is announced on Monday, Mar. 3 at 2:30 p.m. Capturing their first-ever NESCAC title, the Jumbos (26-1) earned the conference's automatic berth into the national tournament.
Marley Giddins '16 paced the Jeffs with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Hannah Peterson '17 was the only other Amherst player to score in double digits with 10. Tufts' Hayley Kanner '15 led all scorers with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting, while Michela North '17 posted a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Kelsey Morehead '15 and Liz Moynihan '14 each chipped in with 10 points.
Getting the Jeffs off to a fast start, Cheyenne Pritchard '16 scored the game's first five points on a pair of free throws and a three-pointer at 16:18. Tufts answered with a 6-0 spurt, taking its first lead of the game on a Moynihan three-point play.
Tied at 10 midway through the period, the Jumbos pieced together an 11-1 run over five-plus minutes. Morehead got the streak started with a layup before Kanner knocked down a trey to make it 15-10. Tufts then connected on four-straight from the line before Haley Zwecker '16 netted Amherst's first points in 5:25.
Ahead 29-22 at the intermission, the Jumbos opened the second half on an 8-3 run, building a 12-point advantage on an Ali Rocchi '14 bucket at 17:30. With the teams exchanging buckets over the majority of the second half, Amherst made one last run with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.
Trailing 50-36, Ali Doswell '17 found the range from long distance to pull the Jeffs within 11. Zwecker then ducked into the paint for two more before Doswell hit 1-of-2 from the line to pare the deficit to eight with less than five minutes to go.
With its first conference crown in sight, Tufts responded with a 12-2 run, going up 62-44 with just 56 seconds left on the clock. Five different Jumbos scored during the decisive stretch, with the home team holding Amherst to just one field goal over the final 4:41.
With its offense shooting just 37.3 percent (22-of-59) from the floor and 27.3 percent (3-of-11) from three, the Tufts defense helped carry the day, limiting the Jeffs to just 28.6 percent (12-of-42) shooting and a 25.0 percent (4-of-16) clip from behind the arc. Winning the battle on the boards (38-34), the Jumbos outscored Amherst 11-4 in second chance points and 34-12 in points in the paint.