Game Recap courtesy of Amherst College
AMHERST, Mass. – The No. 8 Tufts women's basketball team gave No. 2 Amherst its first loss of the season and its first home setback since Jan. 31, 2009 with a 52-51 victory in a Saturday afternoon NESCAC thriller at LeFrak Gymnasium.
The Purple and White had won 121 straight games at LeFrak Gymnasium since edging Colby, 65-64 on Jan. 31, 2009. They were eight home wins shy of tying the NCAA record (for all divisions) of 129 home victories set by the University of Kentucky's men's basketball team between 1943 and 1955.
The Jumbos take over first place in the conference while improving to 20-2 overall and 9-0 in NESCAC. Previously unbeaten Amherst falls to 21-1 and 7-1 in the conference.
In an evenly matched and well-played contest, the sides battled nine ties and seven lead changes throughout the game with neither team establishing more than an eight-point lead.
With Tufts clinging to a one-point, 48-47 lead with 2:28 to play in the fourth quarter, Josie Lee made a layup to give the Jumbos a 50-47 edge. Jaimie Renner answered with a pair of free throws for Amherst 13 seconds later to pull the Purple & White back to within one, but the Jumbos used a Michela North jumper in the paint with 49 seconds left to extend their lead back to three (52-49).
Thirteen seconds later, Hannah Hackley swished a pair of foul shots to set the score at 52-51, and following a defensive rebound by Ali Doswell on Tufts' ensuing possession, Amherst had a chance to win the game as time expired, but Cheyenne Pritchard's attempt did not fall.
North led all players in scoring and on the glass with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Melissa Baptista followed with 12 points and seven boards, while Emma Roberson netted eight points and six rebounds. Michelle Wu chipped in seven points off the bench for the Jumbos.
Hackley led the Purple & White with 15 points and added five rebounds, while Meredith Doswell tabbed 12 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. Jackie Nagle provided nine points and six boards, while Ali Doswell finished with eight points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Early in the first quarter, Amherst ran out to a 6-0 lead as Zwecker canned a mid-range jumper, and Meredith Doswell powered in a pair of layups. Trailing 10-4 with 4:17 to play in the first period, Tufts' defense held the Purple & White scoreless over the next 4:02 as North, Roberson, Wu and Katy Hicks each made layups to give the Jumbos a 12-10 lead. A bucket in the paint by Hackley with 15 seconds left evened the game at 12-12, and following a turnover by the Jumbos, Renner beat the buzzer with a basket underneath to give Amherst a 14-12 lead after one period of play.
In the second quarter, Nagle hit the first shot of the frame to give the Purple & White a 16-12 lead, but the Jumbos rallied for nine of the next 10 points capped by a Maura Folliard make from three-point range to give the visitors a 21-17 lead. A pair of Meredith Doswell free throws, followed by a layup from Ali Doswell tied the score at 21-21, before Roberson hit a clutch jumper with four ticks on the clock to give Tufts a 23-21 advantage at intermission.
With Amherst trailing 28-27 with just under seven minutes to play in the third stanza, Meredith Doswell made a pair from the charity stripe, and the Purple & White scored nine unanswered points to stake a 36-28 lead – its largest of the game – with 1:58 to play in the period. Baptista then made four foul shots, and North knocked down 1-of-2 from the line to set the score at 37-33 in favor of Amherst headed into the fourth quarter.
After Ali Doswell connected on a mid-range jumper to lift the host's cushion back to six (39-33), Wu answered with a triple for the Jumbos to pull them back to within three. Two Hackley foul shots lifted the lead back to five for Amherst, while a North layup and two free throws kept the game close. The game leveled off twice more before the Jumbos were able to see out the frantic finish and complete the 52-51 victory.
The Amherst winning streak was the longest of its kind by any women's basketball program across all divisions.
Tufts closes out its regular season next Friday when they host Williams College at 7 pm. Amherst returns to NESCAC action next Friday at Middlebury College for a 7 pm meeting with the Panthers.