AMHERST, Mass. – The top-seeded Amherst College women's basketball team used a 21-point third quarter to help secure a hard-fought, 41-37 victory over second-seeded Tufts University to clinch the 2016-17 NESCAC Championship title Sunday afternoon at LeFrak Gymnasium.
With the win, Amherst remains unbeaten and improves to 27-0 on the season. Tufts moves to 25-2 overall. Both teams will await their NCAA Division III Championship tournament fates which will be announced Monday, February 27.
A tightly contested first half saw Amherst edge Tufts, 7-6 in the first 10 minutes, before Tufts scored 10 of 13 points in the second quarter to give the Jumbos a 16-10 lead at intermission. Emma McCarthy '19 led the Purple & White with five points in the first 10 minutes, while Michela North scored four in the first stanza for Tufts. The visitors limited Amherst to just three points in the second quarter as Melissa Baptista helped give the Jumbos a six-point cushion behind a pair of treys.
In the third quarter, North made a jumper just 14 seconds into the frame, but Tufts was held scoreless until the 6:15 mark as the Purple & White went on a 9-0 run highlighted by four points from Ali Doswell '17 to help Amherst take a 19-18 lead. A jumper by Baptista halted the run, but only momentarily as the hosts closed out the quarter on a 12-2 run which gave the Purple & White a 31-22 lead. Ali Doswell scored 11 points in the frame, while McCarthy added five to help swing the momentum.
In the fourth quarter, Tufts orchestrated its own rally behind an 11-point effort from Baptista which included three triples. Twice Baptista knocked down a trey to pull the Jumbos to within four – the first time to set the score at 35-31 at the 1:49 mark, and then again with 1:03 to play to make it 38-34. Ali Doswell answered with a jumper and Jaimie Renner '17 then hit the backend of two free throws with 11 seconds on the clock to make it 41-34. Baptista swished her final basket from beyond-the-arc as time expired to set the final score at 41-37.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Amherst was led by Ali Doswell who netted 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, while also grabbing a game-high nine rebounds and dishing out five assists.
- McCarthy chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds for Amherst which shot 41.7% from the floor.
- Baptista scored a game-best 19 points on 7-of-14 efficiency from the field and a 5-for-10 effort from long distance in addition to notching a team-best six boards. North added 10 points and three steals in the losing effort.
- The Jumbos were held to 27.8% shooting from the floor and 22.7% from three-point range.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- Saturday's win marks the second straight NESCAC title for Amherst and the program's seventh conference championship overall having previously won the league in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
- Amherst is now 28-8 overall in the NESCAC postseason since 2001. This is the Purple & White's second consecutive conference crown and sixth in the last eight years having won four straight between 2010 and 2013.
- Tufts won back-to-back titles in 2013-14 and 2014-15 before Amherst halted that run last season with a 50-49 win in Medford, Mass.