AMHERST, Mass. – A fourth consecutive trip to the national semifinals was never in doubt for the top-ranked Amherst, which earned an 84-61 win against Emmanuel on Saturday.
Amherst will continue its run in the NCAA tournament by taking on George Fox next Friday in a battle of 31-0 powerhouses. The Lord Jeffs and Bruins will square off at Hope in Holland, Mich.
The Jeffs led Emmanuel by double digits for the majority of Saturday’s game and were ahead by at least 21 for the final 12:21. Lem Atanga McCormick wrapped up an outstanding weekend with 19 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, accounting for half of Amherst’s 3-pointers by going 4-for-5 from behind the arc.
Emmanuel (25-7) got 27 points and 13 boards from Fiona O’Dwyer, but the Saints shot only 30.6 percent overall and 2-for-10 from long range.
Atanga McCormick scored Amherst’s first 10 points and pushed the lead to 20-8 on her third 3-pointer of the opening half. O’Dwyer kept the Saints in the game and brought the score to 27-18 after back-to-back layups, but the Jeffs’ lead hovered between 14 and 16 during a six-minute stretch late in the period.
The final points of the first half came when Jasmine Hardy knocked down a tough 3-pointer despite getting knocked to the floor, giving Amherst a 45-28 lead at the break. O’Dwyer had 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting, but the rest of Emmanuel was 3-for-21 and combined for only 12 points. Atanga McCormick had 13 points at the break, as the Jeffs were 5-for-9 from downtown.
Breanna Ockimey knocked down a 3-pointer for Emmanuel out of the gate, but Amherst continued to have an answer for every big shot by the Saints. Atanga McCormick and Jackie Renner connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to make it a 59-38 game with 15:28 remaining, and the visitors were never able to get within striking distance.
Megan Robertson finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for Amherst, while Caroline Stedman added 17 points. Renner had 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and three blocks in one of her most efficient performances of the season, with Kim Fiorentino adding six rebounds and a game-high six assists.
Saturday marked the final home game for Amherst’s seniors, who finish with a 76-1 record in LeFrak Gymnasium and will leave the program with a 67-game home win streak to protect. The Lord Jeffs will carry a 50-game overall unbeaten streak to Michigan, with 10 of those wins coming in NCAA tournament play.