Feb. 2, 2010

By Amy Farnum
NCAA.com

REACHING THE PEAK:
Still perfect after a pair of New England Small College Athletic Conference victories last week, Amherst College has climbed to the top of the D3hoops.com Top 25 for the first time in program history.

The Lord Jeffs improved to 19-0 with wins over then-No. 18 Bowdoin and Colby, sparked by the play of sophomore Caroline Stedman, who was named NESCAC Player of the Week.  The native of Walpole, Mass., netted a career-high 21 points with six rebounds against Bowdoin, and then topped the performance with a career-best 26 points and seven rebounds at Colby.  

Stedman paces Amherst with an 11.8 scoring average, and tops the NESCAC in conference scoring with 17.8 ppg.  She averaged just 2.2 ppg as a freshman last year.  

Amherst has set program records for best start to a season and longest winning streak at 19-0, and the Lord Jeffs’ victory at Bowdoin was their first in program history.  The Lord Jeffs are in the midst of a seven-game road stretch, which continues at Bates on Feb. 5.

DOWN GOES ANOTHER “1”: Carthage College knocked off its second top-ranked team of the season as the Lady Reds handed then-No. 1 Illinois Wesleyan its first defeat of the year in a College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin contest on Jan. 30.  The Lady Reds also downed then-No. 1 Hope College, 51-47, on Dec. 28 at the Oglethorpe Holiday Classic.  

Sophomore Diana Jacklin of Berwyn, Ill., scored game-high 19 points on 50 percent shooting, along with a team-high 10 rebounds to lift the Lady Reds.  

“This win should be a big plus in our NCAA resume,” said Carthage head coach Tim Bernero. “We want to be one of those top 10 or top 15 teams, both this year and down the road.”

Carthage vaulted six spots to No. 14 in the latest D3hoops.com Top 25 following the big victory.  The Lady Reds look to stretch their five-game winning streak at Wheaton (Ill.) in a CCIW match-up on Feb. 2.

DESERVING HONOR: Farmingdale State point guard Tiffara Steward was named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association women’s winner of the Most Courageous Award this week – on the same day the unbeaten Rams cracked the D3hoops.com Top 25 at No. 25.
At 4’ 6”, Steward is believed to be the smallest player in collegiate basketball history, but that is only one of her challenges.  The native of Long Island, N.Y., is also blind in her right eye, suffers from a 50 percent hearing loss, has one leg short than the other and has severe scoliosis.

Yet, Steward is the team captain and a starter for the Rams.  She scored 11 points in Farmingdale State’s latest victory, a 69-68 defeat of Mount Saint Vincent in Skyline Conference play over the weekend.  Steward is averaging 5.6 ppg and has started every game for the 18-0 Rams.

"A disability shouldn't be able to stop you from doing what you like or you love or you just want to do," said Steward. "Either you can try it and hopefully succeed in it. I mean, if you don't, then try again."

THAT STINGS: The University of Rochester moved into a tie for second place in the University Athletic Association standings after upending a pair of nationally-ranked league foes last week.

The Yellowjackets handed then-No. 3 Washington (Mo.) its first loss in UAA play on Jan. 29, and then survived a 54-52 overtime battle against then-No. 25 Chicago on Jan. 31.
 
Melissa Alwardt, the Yellowjackets’ leading scorer, contributed 19 points, and the game-winning three-pointer in overtime as Rochester outlasted the Maroons on Sunday.
 
Rochester, which worked its way into the latest D3hoops.com Top 25 at No. 24, will travel to Washington U. and Chicago for a rematch this weekend.