Amherst 80, Babson 65

AMHERST, Mass. — Babson College was within three points of national number one Amherst College with 11 minutes left in the second half, but the Lady Jeffs were simply too strong down the stretch as they defeated the Beavers, 80-65, in the Sectional Finals of the 2010 NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. With the win, Amherst (31-0) advances to its second straight National Semifinal in Bloomington, Ill., while the Beavers see their spectacular season come to a close with a record of 28-4.

Despite the loss, Babson received a magnificent performance from sophomore forward Kathleen King (Framingham, Mass.), who scored a career-high 27 points while shooting 10-for-16 from the field and 7-for-10 from the free throw line. The second-year standout also contributed eight rebounds, two blocked shots, two assists, and three steals. Fellow sophomore forward Nicki Wurdeman (Rowley, Mass.) shot 6-for-10 from the floor to finish with 14 points for Babson, while first-year center Sarah Collins (Weymouth, Mass.) amassed eight points, five boards, two blocks, and two steals.

Amherst featured a balanced attack that was led by sophomore center Lem Atanga McCormick (Chicago, Ill.), who finished with 15 points, two blocks, and two steals. First-year guard Marcia Voigt (Skillman, N.J.) added 13 points for the Lady Jeffs, while sophomore guard Caroline Stedman (Walpole, Mass.), sophomore guard Shannon Finucane (Cortland, N.Y.), and junior guard Kristyn Dunleavy (East Setauket, N.Y.) each finished with 11 points. Junior center Sarah Leyman(Cincinnati, Ohio) chipped in with eight points, eight rebounds, five assists, and four steals for the nation's top-ranked squad, and Finucane and Stedman added six and five steals, respectively.

Neither team led by more than five for the first 14 minutes of the contest, but Amherst used a 9-0 run that featured a conventional three-point play by Leyman and back-to-back long range bombs by Dunleavy and sophomore forward Jackie Renner (Newton, Mass.) to turn a 25-22 lead into a 34-22 cushion with 4:24 left in the opening period. The Lady Jeffs still led by the same margin at 36-24 with just under four minutes to go, but King scored all eight of the Beavers' points during an 8-3 run to close the half as Babson trailed, 39-32, heading into the break.

King had 17 points in the first half for Babson, which shot 52.0% from the field (13-25) but committed 14 turnovers. Wurdeman added seven points in the opening session, while junior guard Becky Bowman (Melrose, Mass.) chipped in with three rebounds and three assists. 

Finucane had nine points, three assists, and five steals in the first half to lead Amherst, while Leyman totaled five points, six boards, three assists, and three steals. The Lady Jeffs shot just 41.2% in the first 20 minutes but made up for it by recording 11 steals and hitting seven three-pointers. 

Amherst pushed its lead back to double figures after a steal and fastbreak lay-up by Stedman made it 43-33 just three minutes into the second stanza, but Beavers first-year point guard Allanah Wynn (Quincy, Mass.) rattled off five unanswered points to cut her team's deficit in half, 43-38, with 15:54 to play. The two teams would then trade baskets until a driving lay-up by first-year Jessica Aruda (Hanover, Mass.) and a nice post move by Wurdeman pulled Babson to within three, 49-46, with 11:55 remaining.

McCormick answered with a offensive rebound and put-back to once again make it a two-possession game, but Collins converted an easy lay-in off a beautiful drive and dish from junior Damisi Adewumi (Bronx, N.Y.) to get the Beavers back to within three at 51-48 with 11:05 on the clock. However, Voigt drained a huge three from the left corner off an inbounds pass to spark a 7-0 run as the Lady Jeffs pushed their lead back to double digits, 58-48, with 9:40 to go.

Babson made one final push over the next minute and a half, as Collins hit a short jumper in the paint and Wurdeman followed with an offensive rebound and put-back to cut the margin to six at 58-52. That would prove to be the Beavers' last true threat, however, as Amherst erupted for a 9-0 burst that was capped by another trifecta from Voigt to go up, 67-52, with under seven minutes remaining. Babson drew to within nine at 74-65 after a conventional three-point play by King with 2:19 left, but first-year forward Bridget Crowley (Hampden, Mass.) hit a lay-up and the Lady Jeffs knocked down four late free throws to clinch the 80-65 victory.

BABSON NOTES: The loss ended a brilliant 2009-10 campaign for Babson, which set school records with 28 victories and a 20-game win streak that was halted on Saturday. Despite being ranked ninth in the final NCAA New England poll, the Beavers won multiple NCAA Tournament games for the first time in program history, defeating Emmanuel, 20th-ranked Colby, and Gettysburg, as they advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time ever… Only one player will be lost to graduation from this year's young Babson squad, as Saturday's game marked the final collegiate contest for senior captain and four-year letter-winner Sarah Hughes (Wellesley, Mass.)… With her career-high 27 points, King moved into 16th place on Babson's all-time scoring list with 863 career points. Wurdeman also ranks among the program's leaders at the midway point of her career, ranking 13th all-time with 942 points.

Newspaper Box Score
Babson College vs Amherst College
3-13-10 6 p.m. at Amherst, MA
At Amherst, MA
Kathleen King 10-16 7-10 27; Nicole Wurdeman 6-10 2-3 14; Sarah Collins 3-5
2-2 8; Allanah Wynn 1-8 3-3 5; Amanda Grammel 2-2 0-0 4; Jessica Aruda 1-2
1-2 3; Damisi Adewumi 0-2 2-2 2; Becky Bowman 1-3 0-1 2; Renay Hamilton 0-2
0-2 0. Totals 24-50 17-25 65.
Lem Atanga McCormick 6-11 2-2 15; Marcia Voigt 4-9 2-2 13; Shannon Finucane
5-12 0-1 11; Caroline Stedman 4-12 1-4 11; Kristyn Dunleavy 4-7 0-0 11;
Sarah Leyman 3-7 2-3 8; Jackie Renner 3-9 0-1 7; Bridget Crowley 1-1 2-2 4.
Totals 30-68 9-15 80.
Babson College................   32   33  -   65
Amherst College...............   39   41  -   80
3-point goals--Babson College 0-4 (; Nicole Wurdeman 0-1; Allanah Wynn 0-2;
Becky Bowman 0-1), Amherst College 11-28 (Kristyn Dunleavy 3-6; Marcia Voigt
3-5; Caroline Stedman 2-5; Shannon Finucane 1-6; Lem Atanga McCormick 1-3;
Jackie Renner 1-3). Fouled out--Babson College-None, Amherst College-None.
Rebounds--Babson College 34 (Kathleen King 8), Amherst College 36 (Sarah
Leyman 8). Assists--Babson College 11 (Allanah Wynn 3; Becky Bowman 3),
Amherst College 16 (Sarah Leyman 5). Total fouls--Babson College 16, Amherst
College 20. Technical fouls--Babson College-None, Amherst College-None.
NCAA Division III Championship Quarterfinal
No. 1 Amherst advances to second consecutive Final Four.