AMHERST, Mass. – December 1, 2007 -- The Amherst College women’s basketball team downed visiting Springfield College, 80-70, this afternoon in day two of the 2007 Pioneer Valley Classic to remain unbeaten on the season. In yesterday’s action, Amherst defeated Westfield State College 77-40, while the Pride topped Western New England College 95-60.
Amherst sophomore Sam Swensen (Rockaway Park, N.Y.) converted a nice lay-up on a contested fast break to hand the Lord Jeffs an early 8-2 lead just three minutes into the game. Junior Yasmine Harik (New York, N.Y.) followed with a strong finish inside on the next possession.
After a 7-2 run from the Pride, Amherst turned to first-year center Sarah Leyman (Cincinnati, Ohio) to respond. The 5’11” post player had back-to-back buckets for the Lord Jeffs, as Amherst increased its lead to 10 points at 19-9. Classmate Jaclyn Daigneault (Guilford, Conn.) followed Leyman’s lead with three consecutive scores for the Jeffs.
Springfield went on a run sparked by strong inside play from junior forward Corey Finch (Hanover, Pa.), but Leyman responded once again with a three-point play after an offensive rebound. Finch then closed the gap to seven points at 34-27 on another smooth post move.
Amherst head coach G.P. Gromacki went to a three guard line-up to close out the first half, hoping to handle the tough Springfield defense that had helped the Pride climb back into the game. At the half, Amherst held a 40-33 edge, with Lehman leading all players with 15 points.
The first five minutes of the second half saw the two sides go shot-for-shot, with Amherst still holding a 52-44 edge with 15 minutes to play. Springfield closed the gap to five points once again when the Pride went to a full court press.
Amherst senior tri-captain Shaina Pollack (Great Neck, N.Y.) took over the game at the 8-minute mark of the second half, and made a pair of consecutive pull-up transition jumpers. With the buckets, the Jeffs’ lead swelled above double digits again.
With 2:10 to play, Springfield closed to within five points on a pair of free throws from senior guard and co-captain Tara McCarthy (Bristol, R.I.) Daigneault responded for the Lord Jeffs with a three pointer on the ensuing Amherst possession.
The Lord Jeffs made free throws down the stretch to close out the game 80-70 for their sixth consecutive win to start the season. Daigneault ended the game 6-for-6 from the floor for 15 points, while Leyman finished with 16 to lead six Amherst players who finished in double digits. Finch finished with a game-high 20 points to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team alongside McCarthy and Amherst’s Daigneault and Swensen, who was the Tournament MVP.
Four players scored in double figures for the Pride. Besides Finch's 20, freshman guard Rachelle Walker (Lee, Mass.) added 14 points (with 4 rebounds), McCarthy added 13 points (with 8 rebounds), and senior guard and co-captain Christine Cotter (Stoughton, Mass.) had 12 points. Junior center Lauren O'Connor (Valhalla, N.Y.) had 8 points and 5 rebounds.
Springfield falls to 3-3 on the year, while the Lord Jeffs sit at 6-0 heading into a tough non-conference game at Clark on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. Springfield does not play again until Saturday, Dec. 8 at 1 pm versus Colby-Sawyer. After six games on the road, Springfield will finally get a chance to play at home.