NESCAC Quarterfinal Preview

Contact: Mike O'Brien

AMHERST, Mass. - The Amherst women's basketball team returns to action this weekend for the start of the 2014 NESCAC Championships. The second-seeded Jeffs host seventh-seeded Hamilton in quarterfinal action on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m.

No. 2 Amherst vs. No. 7 Hamilton

Live Stats/Webcast

Amherst Stats * Hamilton Stats

Jan. 10 - Amherst 60, Hamilton 35 (Box/Recap)

Amherst, winners of four straight NESCAC titles, will face Hamilton in the conference tournament for the first time ever. The Jeffs are 3-0 against the Continentals since Hamilton joined the league as a full-time playing member in 2011-12. They have outscored their NESCAC foe 188-103 in those three meetings and claimed a 60-35 win earlier this season on Jan. 10 in the conference opener. With a 29-18 lead at the half, Amherst came out to start the second with a 10-0 run en route to the decisive victory.

Jumping out to a 14-0 start, Amherst went 1-2 before reeling off seven consecutive heading into Saturday's contest. Throughout the season, the Jeffs have extended their home winning streak to 97 straight games, most in Division III history, and trail only UConn (99) in all of NCAA women's college basketball.

Amherst leads the NESCAC in team scoring and scoring defense, posting 70.9 points per game (69.9 in conference play only) while allowing just 53.4 from its opposition. The team also leads the league in rebounding with an average of 42.2 per game. An efficient scoring offense, the Jeffs hit 41.3 percent from the floor and 33.2 percent from behind-the-arc, both third best among league leaders. A well-balanced attack also features a stellar defense that causes 14.0 turnovers per game (second in NESCAC) while holding opponents to 24.1 percent from downtown (league-best).

Looking to lead the young Jeff squad to a fifth consecutive NESCAC title is Marley Giddins '16. The sophomore guard has enjoyed a stellar 2013-14 season in which she ranks second on the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 11.4 and 7.4 per game, respectively. Giddins ranks among the league leaders in several offensive categories. Despite starting just two games this season, she averages the third most minutes per game in the conference (22.7) while making 57.6 percent of her shots from the floor, which is second best. The sophomore guard also ranks seventh in the NESCAC in rebounding (7.4 rpg).

The team's third highest scorer is first-year guard Ali Doswell. Doswell is averaging 10.7 points per game this season but 15.1 in conference games only (fourth among league leaders). The first-year guard also ranks third on the team in rebounding, averaging 6.1 per game. Doswell led the Jeffs in the first meeting against the Continentals, pouring in a team-high 15 points.

The talented back court also features Cheyenne Pritchard '16, Haley Zwecker '16, and first-year's Hannah Peterson and Jaimie Renner. Pritchard and Renner have been two of the most consistent free throw shooters in the league, ranking sixth (78.1 percent) and eighth (76.6 percent), respectively. The duo shoot 36.4 percent from three-point range while Pritchard leads the team in steals (31) and Zwecker in assists (63). Renner also contributes 9.4 points per game, Pritchard adds 8.3, and Peterson 8.0.

The Continentals have had a see-saw season with their longest winning streak reaching just three games. Entering Saturday's showdown, they have won four of their last six but dropped their most recent contest to Conn. College, 67-54. The second-best three-point shooting team in the conference, Hamilton hits 33.5 percent of their shots from downtown but went 0-for-13 against the Jeffs. The team has seen their problems defensively and average a third worst 54.7 points per game in league play and cause the fourth fewest turnovers (14.6 per game).

Hamilton is led by Samantha Graber '16, one of the top players in the conference. Graber leads the team and ranks second in the NESCAC in scoring (16.3 ppg) and third in rebounding (8.4 rpg). The sophomore was the only Continental in double figures the last time Hamilton played Amherst, tying a game-high with 15 points. She went 9-for-10 from the foul line in the losing effort. Dani Feigin '14 ranks second on the team in scoring and is the only other player to average double-digits, posting 13.8 points per game. Feigin also leads the team in assists and steals, dishing out 2.3 assists with 1.6 steals per game.