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Amherst 54, Tufts 48

At Amherst, MA
Saturday, February 7, 2009

Game Statistics

Casey Sullivan led Tufts with 10 points and added six rebounds

AMHERST -- The ninth ranked Amherst College women's basketball team played host to No. 15 Tufts University this afternoon at LeFrak Gymnasium in a re-match of the 2008 NESCAC Championship. The Lord Jeffs won last year's title game for the program's first crown, and defeated the Jumbos once again today with a 54-48 result.

After Tufts scored the game's opening bucket by senior Katie Tausanovitch (Lyme, NH), Amherst sophomores Sarah Leyman (Cincinnati, OH) and Courtney Long (Norwich, CT) scored seven straight points to open up a 7-2 lead for the hosts less than three minutes into the game. Leyman scored again after a Tufts timeout, but Jumbo sophomore Colleen Hart (Needhan, MA) and junior Julia Baily (Farmington, CT) answered for the Jumbos with back-to-back buckets. Tufts closed the gap to 9-8, before taking the lead on a Bailey transition lay-up.

With the game tied 10-10, Amherst first-year Caroline Stedman (Walpole, MA) made a spectacular steal, tipping the ball up, then over a Jumbo defender to spark a break-away. Stedman missed the contested lay-up on the break, before senior Stacy Brossy (Lukachukai, AZ) hit a jumper to put Amherst back on top.

With 6:51 to play, Amherst rookie Lem Atanga McCormick (Chicago, IL) found classmate Shannon Finucane (Cortland, NY) streaking to the hoop for a score. Tufts re-gained the lead 17-16 when junior Vanessa Miller (Cincinnati, OH) freed herself for an easy jumper. Amherst leading scorer Jaci Daigneault (Guilford, CT) made a three from the top of the key with less than four minutes to play, putting the Lord Jeffs back up 19-17.

A Kim Moynihan (West Hartford, CT) put-back briefly gave the Jumbos the lead, before Daigneault finished inside to put the Jeffs up 22-21. Tausanovitch scored what would be the final bucket of the half, sending Tufts to the locker room up 23-22. At the break, Leyman and Daigneault each had six points for Amherst, while combining for 10 rebounds. Tausanovitch led the Jumbos with six points and four boards.

Amherst started the second half with a 5-0 run, before junior Casey Sullivan (Berlin, CT) scored Tufts' first points of the frame. Bailey scored with 15:33 to play in the second half, tying the game at 29-29. After a jumper from Amherst's Long, Hart made an impressive step-back three to put Tufts ahead 32-31. Long hit a three from the left corner after a Leyman offensive rebound, putting Amherst back up 36-32. Coming out of a timeout, first-year Kim Fiorentino (Holmdel, NJ) found Atanga McCormick with a long lob to a score. Two possessions later, Leyman drew a hack from Tausanovitch, sending the Tufts center to the bench with four fouls and over 10 minutes to play.

Senior co-captain Amanda Otieno (Gloucester, MA) grabbed an offensive board for a score, putting Amherst up 44-35 with 9:19 to go in the second half. With 5:09 to play, Amherst called a timeout to avoid a five-second call on an in-bound play, still clinging to a 48-42 lead. Amherst's lead opened up to 52-44 on a free throw by Daigneault with 2:49 to play, and the Jeffs held nearly the same lead with just 1:29 to play as Daigneault went to the charity stripe again. She knocked down one of two, putting Amherst up 53-45.

The Lord Jeffs held on for a crucial defensive stand, but came up empty-handed on their next trip down court. Sullivan drained a three for Tufts with 21 seconds to play, cutting the margin to 53-48. Finucane broke free on the ensuing in-bound, and was fouled to set-up a one for two trip to the line. Only a missed desperation three from Tufts stood between Amherst and a 54-48 win.

At the close of the game, Daigneault posted her third straight double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds, while Leyman and Long combined for 23 and nine. Sullivan was the only Jumbo to reach double-digits in scoring with 10 points and six boards.

Tufts has now lost three straight to Amherst. Last season, the teams met twice, with Amherst winning both of the games. The Jeffs won the regular season meeting by two points on a buzzer-beater before winning the conference title by six. Despite the loss, Tufts clinched a home-court game for the first round of the NESCAC Tournament on February 21. The Jumbos still have an outside chance at earning the #1 seed in the tournament.

With today's victory, Amherst improves to 6-1 in the NESCAC and 21-1 overall, while Tufts drops to 17-3 (6-2). The Jeffs will have the full week off before hosting Williams Friday night at 5:30 pm. Tufts plays a non-conference game at Trinity on Tuesday.