Racing Down the Floor: Women's Basketball
By Clay Andrews '13, Staff Writer
The women’s basketball continued cruising over the winter term, tallying six wins since the holiday break, including an 85-63 rout of previously unbeaten rival, Williams.

Amherst owned the game against the Purple Cows, as the Jeffs took a 22-7 lead early and never relinquished it. Senior co-captain Jaci Daigneault led all scorers with 20 points and all rebounders with nine boards, while also adding in two blocks and three steals in a stellar performance. Junior Kim Fiorentino also had career performance, putting up 15 points and bringing down eight rebounds. Williams was ranked fourth in the country in Div. III women’s basketball before the blowout. “Beating Williams is always great, and beating them so soundly feels even better. We spend a lot of time getting to know how to play defense against each of their top players in our scouting report as well as working on what we need to do as a team. It feels great when that hard work pays off,” said senior co-captain Sarah Leyman. The win solidified Amherst’s No. 1 rank, sending a strong message to the rest of women’s Div. III basketball.

Amherst’s seeming invincibility coming off the Williams pounding was short-lived as the Jeffs gave up their No. 1 rank in their next game losing for the first time all season to Kean University in Union, NJ in an overtime thriller. The loss was not only Amherst’s first of the season, but marked a severe swing for the Jeffs, as they had not won a game by less than 13 points all year. They had a dreadful shooting game as a team, excluding Daigneault, who was lights-out, going 10 for 11 from the field. If you take out Daigneault’s baskets, the team shot a collective 17 for 69 or 25 percent from the floor. The foul bug that has nagged the Jeffs throughout the season also took its toll late as Daigneault fouled out of the game right at the end of regulation. Without Daigneault, overtime slipped away for Amherst as Kean’s Naimah Clemons and Tiffany Patrick led the Cougars to victory. Kean’s freshman Emily Cristaldi iced the win with her only two points of the game on two free throws with barely any time remaining to make the lead 85-82. Kean is now ranked fourth in the country just below Amherst’s No. 3 spot. “I give Kean a lot of credit for playing so hard,” said Leyman. “We’re going to learn a lot from that game though and it will serve as a wake-up call and a reminder that we need to bring our best effort every night.”

This is only Amherst’s second loss in the last 51 games they have played, demonstrating the team’s dominance over the last couple of years. Last year Amherst went the entire regular season without losing a game, only to finally lose in the NCAA semifinals. “We’ve been playing well since break but the best part is that we haven’t played our best yet,” said Leyman. “We have room for improvement and that means we can peak towards the end of the season when it matters most.”

Despite the loss, two Amherst players did reach impressive milestones as both Daigneault and Leyman joined Amherst’s 1,000 career points club. They are the ninth and 10th female players in Amherst history to score 1,000 points. “I really didn’t realize how much success our team would have during my time at Amherst,” said Leyman reflecting on the achievement. “I am very fortunate to have had Coach Gromacki as a coach. Of course, I give all the credit to him and my teammates for the work they do to make myself and our team so successful!”

Aside from the loss and the Williams win, Amherst has played five games since finals ended. They have beaten Wesleyan twice, Connecticut College, Farmingdale State and Trinity by a combined score of 175. None of those five teams came within 19 points of the Jeffs.

Amherst’s next tests are home against Colby Friday night and home against Bowdoin Saturday afternoon, as NESCAC play is now in full swing. Bowdoin coud prove a challenge, as the Polar Bears are 14-3 and ranked 13th in the country.

Issue 12, Submitted 2011-01-26 22:41:45