Ithaca edges Amherst 74-71 in overtime to head to first NCAA quarterfinals
MEDFORD, Mass. -- Ithaca (26-4) captured its first NCAA Round of 16 victory in program history with a 74-71 overtime win against Amherst (26-4) Friday night at Tuft's Cousens Gym.
Ithaca moves on to the quarterfinals for the first time in program history. This was Ithaca's third trip to the Round of 16 and second in as many years. The Bombers were denied a spot in the sectional final a season ago after a 64-60 overtime loss at Williams. The win set a school record for 18 consecutive victories and pulls the team within one of tying the school record of 27 wins set in 2012-13.
Ithaca's seniors shined in the victory. Mary Kate Tierney posted her first career triple-double with a 14-point, 11-rebound and 10-assist performance. Jenn Escobido added 10 points and 11 rebounds to help the Bombers edge Amherst 74-71 on the boards. Kathryn Campbell scored a team-best 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting, 12 of which she drained in the second. Junior Geena Brady had 13 points and seven rebounds. Tierney swatted away three blocks.
Escobido had a pair of put-backs to help Ithaca to a 68-64 gap at the three-minute mark of overtime. Amherst drained one of its 11 treys at 2:16, but Brady answered with a layup on a Tierney feed just 20 seconds later. The Lord Jeffs scored the next four for a 71-70 lead with 28 ticks on the clock. Junior Samantha Klie closed out the game with four consecutive points for the win. Amherst attempted to launch a desperation 3 from the top of the key, but the final buzzer sounded in Ithaca's favor.
Amherst jumped out to a 19-11 advantage shooting a flawless 7-for-7 during the first six minutes of play. The Jeffs pulled ahead by as many as 12 before back-to-back Tierney floaters brought the Bombers back within six, 31-25, at 6:11. Rookie Erin Ferguson checked into the game and bookended a Jeffs' shot clock violation with a layup and a pair of free throws to cut within five. Amherst owned a 41-32 edge at halftime highlighted by a 7-for-9 performance from beyond the arc and 48.4 percent shooting from the floor.
Ithaca answered shooting 56 percent from the field in the second. The Bombers held Amherst scoreless for the first four minutes en route to their first lead of the game at 14:28 on an Ally Mnich 3-pointer. The score flip-flopped six times in the half and was deadlocked on three occasions. Ithaca rewrote a four-point deficit with back-to-back jumpers from Escodibo and Brady, both on Tierney assists. The Bombers played stout defense in the waning seconds, to force Amherst to fumble the ball and keep the Jeffs from getting off a shot. The game was headed to overtime.
For the game, Ithaca shot 44.1 percent to the Jeffs' 38.9 percent. Ithaca led assists 18-17 and steals 3-2, while Amherst tallied six blocks to the Bombers' five.
Ithaca improved to 1-1 all-time against Amherst. The Bombers fell to the Jeffs 66-44 on Nov. 24.