WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — Jackie Renner matched a game-high with 14 points, adding seven rebounds and five assists in top-ranked Amherst’s 66-45 non-conference road win against Eastern Connecticut State.
Improving to 7-0 on the season, the Jeffs have won their last four meetings against the Warriors, while ECSU fell to 4-3 on the year.
Up one after a Lauren Kelleher free-throw at 18:10, Lem Atanga McCormick drained a three on the left wing to extend the Amherst lead to 7-3. After an ECSU turnover, Renner drove the lane for two before a Shannon Finucane trey from the right side staked the Jeffs to a 12-3 advantage.
Trying to help the home team keep pace, Kelleher drew a foul on the Warriors’ next possession, going 2-for-2 from the line to trim the margin to seven. Renner responded with a three from the top of the circle to give Amherst its first double-digit lead.
Driving the baseline with just under 13 and a half to go in the first, Renner kicked it out to Finucane for another Lord Jeff triple before a Kristina Forsman jumper from the left elbow ended a 6:40 ECSU field-goal drought.
After two Piper Chapman free-throws and a Blodgett basket made it 18-11, the Warriors cut the deficit to just four on a Forsman triple. Looking to regain the momentum co-captain Kim Fiorentinobeat her defender, dishing it to an open Megan Robertson for two before an Atanga McCormick bucket pushed the Jeff lead back up to eight with 9:21 on the clock.
With both squads settling in defensively neither team managed to add to its tally during the next five minutes before a Fiorentino block led to the game’s first fastbreak points, ending the scoreless streak. Bridget Crowley and Renner kept things rolling with consecutive layups making it 28-14 before four consecutive Chapman points pulled the Warriors back within 10 at 2:21.
Getting a big defensive stop with under 30 seconds to play in the half, Blodgett drove to her right before pulling up for a jumper just inside the free-throw line, slicing the Lord Jeff lead to 30-22 heading into the intermission.
Continuing to go on the offensive to start the second, Chapman connected on a bucket down low, bringing ECSU within six. After Fiorentino split a pair from the charity stripe, first-year Taylor McBride dove into the lane, laying it in to make it 31-26.
With under 17 to go, a hustling Robertson followed up a Caroline Stedman misfire with a putback for the Jeffs’ first field-goal of the frame. Bringing the ball down with just 15 and a half left, Fiorentino found Stedman spotted up on the left wing, allowing the senior to dial it in from long distance, upping the Lord Jeff cushion to 36-26.
ECSU responded with six consecutive points, paring the deficit to four at 12:43 on a Chapman basket but Stedman answered with a turnaround jumper in the lane, stemming the surging Warriors tide. Looking to extend the Amherst margin, Fiorentino again found Stedman with a cross-court pass for the Jeffs’ seventh three of the night.
After a Forsman layup at 10:35, Renner netted the game’s next five points to help Amherst build a 46-34 edge. Still up 12 with just four minutes remaining, Stedman went coast-to-coast after a Crowley block before Marcia Voigt converted a three-point play the old fashioned way to make it 55-38.
Stedman capped off the Jeffs’ decisive 21-6 run in a 9:21 second half span with a layup at 3:22 putting Amherst up 19 before McBride netted the Warriors first points in just two minutes, ending a string of seven consecutive Amherst scores.
Stedman finished with 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting, while Robertson added 10 points and nine rebounds. Voigt and Atanga McCormick combined for 15 points while Finucane chipped in with six. Fiorentino added a career-high 10 rebounds in the win. As a team, Amherst shot 25-for-60 (41.7 percent) from the field and 7-for-15 (46.7 percent) from three-point range.
Chapman led an ESCU side that shot just 16-for-54 (29.6 percent) from the floor and 1-for-9 (11.1 percent) from behind the arc with 14 points and 10 boards, while Blodgett added 10 points and eight rebounds.