Jeffs sink women’s basketball, 65-53

On Saturday, women’s basketball (9-4) learned the hard way that all good things come to an end. For the first time in 14 contests, Amherst (13-0) beat Williams, topping the visiting Ephs 65-53. Until this weekend the women had not lost a game to their rivals since January 2001. The Ephs still hold the advantage in the series, 40-22.

“I don’t think any of us played to our full potential,” co-captain Dominique de la Torre ’08 said. “We never got into an offensive rhythm which I think was due to the fact that we didn’t push the ball in transition. The next time we meet Amherst in two weeks it will be a completely different game.”

Shot accuracy proved to be one of the deciding factors in the Ephs’ loss. While Williams shot 32.7 percent from the floor, Amherst nailed 41.1 percent of its shots. The Jeffs also had the edge on the glass, out-rebounding the Ephs 40-35.

Amherst scored the first two points of the contest and never surrendered the advantage, although Williams flirted with the lead at several points in the game, coming to within one point five minutes into the second half.

But Amherst stayed comfortably on top for most of the first period. With four minutes to go in the half, the Jeffs mounted a 13-4 run to take a 27-16 lead.

“The Amherst offense was especially smooth, and on the other side, our offense just never really got into the kind of flow that we are used to,” said co-captain Whitney Livermore ’08.

Before the first half ran out, the Ephs responded and went on a run of their own, scoring eight unanswered points to cut Amherst’s lead to five. Back-to-back three-pointers from captains de la Torre and Mika Peterman ’09 fueled the comeback.

Coming out of the break, Williams continued to fight back into contention. With 14:31 remaining, the Ephs clawed to within one, 36-35. It was as close as they’d come all night.

Amherst dominated the remainder of the game. With four minutes left the Jeffs grabbed their biggest lead of the night, 62-48, and effectively shut the door of the Ephs comeback hopes.

With seven rebounds and 16 points Chessie Jackson ’11 led the squad in both categories. Niki Savageau ’08 netted 13 points and also recorded a team-high five assists. Taylor Shea ’11 chipped in nine points and made five rebounds.

“In the end, I think it was a bit of the jitters that got to us,” Livermore said. “No matter how much you tell yourself that it’s just like any other game, the truth is that it isn’t just any other game because it’s one of the greatest rivalries ever, and it’s hard to deny yourself the excitement, and I guess sometimes the pressure, of the moment.”

Earlier in the month, the Ephs had better luck, winning their second Williams-hosted tournament of the season. A 72-49 victory over Babson in the championship round sealed the Classic. It was the third straight year that the women won the tourney.

Williams used deadly accuracy from three-point range to jump out to an early lead. Ten minutes into the first half the Ephs amassed a commanding 25-13 lead, and they finished the first half shooting 62.5 percent from behind the arc.

Stifling defense and more impressive offense from Williams kept Babson out of contention in the second half. The Ephs only allowed three points in the first ten minutes after the break.

On the offensive side of the ball four players – Jackson, Peterman, Savageau and Jessica Harris ’11 – all scored in the double-digits. Savageau finished the game with 11 points and six rebounds and was therefore named the tournament MVP. Shea was named to the All-Tournament team.

The win over Babson marked the squad’s eighth victory over the last nine contests.

The women hope to revive some of that consistency when going into conference play. “We definitely have the weapons we will need to fight the rest of the NESCAC,” Livermore said. “Now it’s just about adapting to varying situations and coming up with the best solutions in the moment, as a team.”

As Saturday’s Amherst contest did not count as a conference game, Williams officially opened conference play last night at home against Hamilton. However, results from the game came in too late to be included in this issue.

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