MEDFORD, Mass. – The No. 5/5 and second-seeded Amherst College women's basketball team earned the program's sixth NESCAC title and fifth in the last seven years after downing No. 6/4 and top-seeded Tufts University, 50-49 in Sunday afternoon's NESCAC Championship title game in Medford, Mass.
With the win, Amherst (26-1) garners the NESCAC automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Division III Championship and will await its opponent. The NCAA Selection Show will take place Monday, Feb. 28 at 2:30 p.m. The Jumbos (23-3) will await a possible at-large bid to the national postseason.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- In a game that was closely contested from start to finish and featured seven tie scores and 11 lead changes, a three-pointer from Meredith Doswell '17 put Amherst ahead, 48-47 with 1:55 to play, and a fast-break Hannah Hackley '18 layup 24 seconds later gave the Purple & White a 50-47 lead.
- Michela North answered for Tufts with a layup with just under a minute to play, and following a defensive stop, the Jumbos missed a three-pointer, and despite getting the offensive rebound, could not convert their final shot attempt as Amherst held on for a thrilling and hard-fought 50-49 win.
- Ali Doswell '17 led the Purple & White with 22 points, followed by a nine-point effort from Meredith Doswell. Both Doswell's collected a team-best nine boards, while Haley Zwecker '16 picked up eight points off the bench.
- North led Tufts with a game-best 28 points and hauled in a game-high 13 rebounds. Melissa Baptista chipped in nine points, while Josie Lee corralled eight boards.
- Amherst shot 33.3% from the field and 93.8% from the free throw line highlighted by and 8-for-8 effort from Ali Doswell.
- The Jumbos shot 33.9% from the floor as both teams were limited to just one strike from three-point range.
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS
- The first half saw Tufts hold an 18-10 lead after 10 minutes of play, before Amherst answered with a 17-8 second quarter as the Purple & White held a slim, 27-26 edge at intermission.
- In the first quarter, the Jumbos led by as many as nine (15-6) when North powered in a bucket underneath with 1:52 to play in the frame.
- Amherst used the second quarter to chip away at Tufts' advantage, and following a trey from Lauren Dillon to give the Jumbos a 24-21 lead with 3:40 on the clock, the hosts were held to just two more points for the remainder of the half.
- The Purple & White used a pair of Zwecker free throws, a Meredith Doswell jumper, and two foul shots by Ali Doswell to give the visitors a 27-26 edge at halftime.
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS
- Much like the first half, the second half featured more back-and-forth play as Tufts held a 12-10 advantage in the third quarter, with Amherst owning a 13-11 edge in the fourth frame.
- After playing to three tie scores in the third stanza, Emma Roberson put the Jumbos ahead, 38-35 at the 4:40 mark.
- After just over two minutes of scoreless play thanks to stellar defense by both sides, Ali Doswell put in a layup to set the score at 38-37 in favor of Tufts after three quarters of play.
- With the score level at 45-45 with 2:12 to play in regulation, North notched a bucket in the paint to give Tufts a 47-45 lead.
- Meredith Doswell answered with the Purple & White's lone three-pointer of the contest to give Amherst a 48-47 lead. A clutch steal by Zwecker on the next possession allowed Hackley to score a fast-break bucket and give the visitors a three-point 50-47 lead with 1:31 to play.
- After a North bucket in the lane pulled the Jumbos to within one with 57 seconds to play, she then pulled in a key defensive rebound. Maura Folliard missed her ensuing three-point attempt, but Dillon was able to deliver a huge offensive board and call timeout with three seconds remaining. However, North's layup after the timeout did not connect and Amherst was able to hang on for a superb victory.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- Amherst has now won six league titles (2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2016) and has amassed an overall NESCAC postseason record of 25-8.
- The Purple & White will be making their ninth straight, and ninth overall appearance in the NCAA tournament, and have reached five Final Fours highlighted by the program's first national title in 2011.