Air Amherst: Women's Basketball Continues to Roll
By Clay Andrews '13, Staff Writer
The women’s basketball team stayed perfect in conference play this week, earning solid victories over NESCAC foes Tufts and Bates to remain atop the conference.

Neither game proved particularly threatening to Amherst, as the team breezed by Tufts 73-35 and turned away Bates 74-62. The Jeffs are the only team that is undefeated in the conference after the games this weekend. With only a couple regular season games remaining, the Jeffs will look to finish strong and take the top seed into the NESCAC tournament.

The Jeffs won sole ownership of first place in the conference by beating Tufts on Friday night, following Williams’ loss to Bowdoin. Amherst jumped all over Tufts early, more than doubling the Jumbos’ score at halftime, 32-15. They did not relent in the second half either, forcing Tufts to take low-percentage shots and holding them to a measly 27 percent from the field for the night.

Junior Caroline Stedman, who was named the NESCAC’s player of the week following her performances in the two games, and senior co-captain Jaci Daigneault led the team to victory, putting up 19 and 18 points respectively. Senior co-captain Sarah Leyman and sophomore guard Marcia Voigt also contributed, with each player adding seven points. Additionally, sophomores Jasmine Hardy and Bridget Crowley made the most of their minutes, scoring six points apiece. “I don’t think we have reached our full potential yet,” said Voigt on the team’s play of late. “We’ve been pushing each other in practice and are determined to bring our performance up a level.”

It is worth noting that Tufts was without senior preseason all-American Colleen Hart, the NESCAC’s leading scorer entering the week. However, it is hard to imagine that Hart could have made a 38-point difference. Without Hart, no Tufts player managed double-digit scoring on the night, a testament to Amherst’s defense as well as the Jumbos’ struggles.

Saturday’s game proved to be a closer affair, although Amherst still maintained control for nearly the entire game. Bates benefited from a worse-than-normal shooting performance from Amherst, but Stedman’s career-high-tying 26 points proved too much for Bates to pose any real challenge.

In addition to Stedman’s scoring frenzy, Daigneault put up 17 points to go along with nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks. The other captain also led the team to victory as Leyman scored 11 points, brought down five rebounds, and tallied four steals.

The Jeffs struggled keeping the ball away from Bates’ Annie Burns, who finished the game with an impressive seven steals. Allie Beaulieu and Jessie Igoe also had respectable games for the Bobcats. “Jaci and Caroline played spectacular and fueled the team,” Voigt commented regarding the win. “Things have been coming together well and the team dynamic on the court has been great.”

This Saturday’s game against Bates was the last regular season game for Amherst seniors at Lefrak Gymnasium. Daigneault, Leyman, Kristen Dunleavy, and Courtney Long are the players from Amherst’s incredible class of 2011. They have an overall record of 109-9, with an unheard of 67-1 mark at home. “I’m not ready to say good-bye to the seniors on the team, and each win delays that moment,” Voigt answered when asked about her class of 2011 teammates. “Most of all, I want to celebrate a National Championship with them and with the school, which has been our goal since I arrived at Amherst.”

Amherst continues the season on Friday with a game at Middlebury College. With only a couple games remaining before tournament time, the Jeffs will be looking to build on the momentum they have already generated.

Issue 14, Submitted 2011-02-09 17:11:02