Amherst Athletics

AMHERST, Mass. – In a showdown between two of the top teams in Division III, No. 1 Amherst made a statement with an 85-63 win over No. 4 Williams. The Lord Jeffs remain undefeated at 13-0, while winning the 2011 Little Three title and dropping Williams to 12-1.

Amherst got 20 points and nine rebounds from senior co-captain Jaci Daigneault, while classmate and fellow captain Sarah Leyman added 12 points, four rebounds and three assists. Kim Fiorentino tied a career high with 15 points and eight rebounds. Claire Baecher led the Ephs with 19 points, while Jennie Harding and Danny Rainer scored 10 points apiece.

Amherst jumped out from the start, taking a 9-0 lead on four points by Leyman and five by Shannon Finucane. The Ephs finally got on the board on a Taylor Shea jumper, but the Jeffs stretched their lead out to 22-7 by the 11:17 mark on a triple by Marcia Voigt.

Amherst brought All-American Caroline Stedman off the bench, as it was just Stedman’s second game back after missing time with an injury. She provided a spark for the offense stretching Amherst’s lead to 18 points with 6:59 to play with a triple from the corner.

Late in the first half, Williams was unable to cut Amherst’s lead below 13 points. Once the Ephs closed to 42-29, junior Jackie Renner scored a left-handed bucket on a drive and was fouled but could not complete the three-point play.

Amherst closed the half on a 7-2 run capped by a 3 by senior Kristyn Dunleavy with nine seconds remaining. The final-minute flurry sent the Lord Jeffs into the break up 49-31 as Daigneault led all players with 10 points and six rebounds in the first half.

In less than five minutes of second half action, Amherst pushed its lead to 21 points at 60-39 on a pair of Fiorentino free throws with 15:18 to play. Williams was able to close the gap to 14 points as Grace Rehnquist made a trio of free throws with 10:32 to play.

Amherst’s lead quickly swelled back to 75-53 with 7:00 remaining as Fiorentino hit back-to-back 3s and Daigneault broke free for a lay-up. The Lord Jeffs never looked back, stretching their lead as large as 24 points with 3:13 to play.

The game was never in question down the stretch as Amherst led start to finish for the 85-63 win. In the end, Amherst held a 38-31 advantage in rebounding, and forced 17 turnovers in the win. The Jeffs also had eight blocks and 12 steals, holding Williams to just 37.3 percent shooting from the floor and only 14.3 percent from behind the arc.