Amherst hits century mark, advances
Defense holds Eagles to just 13 percent shooting in second half
AMHERST, Mass. – Amherst continued its postseason run with a 102-44 win against Husson University on Friday evening in the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament opening round. The Lord Jeffs improved to 27-1 and will host Eastern Connecticut State University (21-8) on Saturday at 6 p.m. in LeFrak Gymnasium.
The Eagles, who were making their third NCAA Tournament appearance, closed out their season with a 16-12 mark. Husson won 10 of its final 12 games and will begin the 2011-12 season as defending champion of the North Atlantic Conference.
Jaci Daigneault led all players with 23 points to help Amherst increase its home winning streak to 46 games and its overall unbeaten streak to 14. The Lord Jeffs, who were facing Husson for the first time in program history, are now 12-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament play.
After Husson’s Amanda Gifford converted an early three-point play, Amherst used a 10-0 run to take a 15-3 lead after five minutes and never looked back, leading by as many as 29 points in the opening half. The Eagles hit one of their first 11 shots but finished the period strong, going 7 for 13 down the stretch to finish at 33 percent for the half.
Amherst held a 54-31 lead at the break thanks to three players scoring in double figures. Daigneault led everyone with 15 points in only 11 minutes, while Gifford used a 7 for 7 performance at the line to pace the Eagles with 11 points at the break.
The Lord Jeffs were even sharper in the first 10 minutes of the second half, using a smothering defense and fast-break points to go on a 19-point run that brought the score to 81-37 with 9:19 to play. Amherst continued to pull away as the 102-44 victory marked the Jeffs’ highest point total of the season.
Daigneault’s 23 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes highlighted the stat sheet, while four other Lord Jeffs finished with at least 10 points. Kim Fiorentino totaled eight points, nine boards and six assists, while Marcia Voigt had 10 points, four assists and four steals.
Gifford finished with 15 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals to lead Husson, while Bethany Sevey added 13 points, four boards and three steals. The Eagles shot 13 percent (3 for 23) in the second half and committed 23 turnovers in the game.
Saturday's game will be a rematch of the Dec. 9 meeting between Amherst and Eastern Connecticut, a game the Lord Jeffs won 79-55 on their home court.