AMHERST, MA – The Williams women's basketball team dropped a tough one tonight to top-ranked rival Amherst (23-0, 9-0 NESCAC) 77-55. The Ephs (18-5, 5-4 NESCAC) and Lord Jeffs met earlier this year, but the game did not count towards NESCAC play. Amherst won the first matchup 80-58. With the win, the Lord Jeffs win the Little Three title.
With the score close early, the Lord Jeffs started to take over the game on an 11-1 run that started with a three-pointer from Shannon Finucane. Amherst then got a trio of jumpers from Caroline Stedman, Marcia Voight, and Megan Robertson to take the 15-6 lead. After being held without a field goal for nearly six minutes, the Ephs responded with a beautiful long ball from Grace Rehnquist.
The Lord Jeffs, however, pressured the Ephs and continued to add their lead. The Ephs kept on fighting though. With the Lord Jeffs up 28-13, Kellie Macdonald had a pretty spin move in the lane for two. On the next Eph possession, she knocked down a shot from behind the arc. A couple possessions later, Danny Rainer hit a jumper with the shot clock winding down to make it 32-20 with just under five to play in the half. The 12-point deficit was the closest the Ephs would get for the rest of the game, though, and the Lord Jeffs went into the locker rooms with the 42-22 lead.
The Ephs started the second half on a 9-3 run. Rainer scored the first four points for the Ephs – the first two from the charity space and the second a pretty finish in the paint in transition. After Finucane responded for Amherst with a three, Jill Greenberg hit one of her own for the Ephs with a hand in her face. Jennie Harding then hit a pull-up jumper from the left elbow to make it 45-31 just over three minutes into the second half.
The Lord Jeffs, however, responded on the shoulders of Robertson, who finished in the paint and was fouled. She converted the three-point play. She went one-for-two from the line several possessions later and then added a pretty jumper for the Lord Jeffs.
Despite toughness and heart from the Ephs on both ends of the floor, Amherst continued to add to its lead for the rest of the game.
Leading the way tonight for the Lord Jeffs was Robertson with 21 points. She shot 8-for-11 from the field. She also reeled in 17 rebounds to post a double double for the Amherst, who shot 44.4% from the floor on the night. Voight was the only other Lord Jeff in double digits with 13 points.
Rainer led the way for the Ephs with 15 points. Rehnquist added another 13 for Williams, who shot 28.1% from the field.
Said Coach Manning after the game, "We got [outplayed] on the boards… I was very discouraged with our lack of rebounding." She added, "The problem is that if you dig yourself into a hole against Amherst, it's hard to get out."
Manning was impressed with her leading scorer though: "The thing I loved about Danny tonight was that she just went for it. She just competed, and that's what we need from every player, every minute on the floor… It was definitely one of her best games of the season. I feel like with every game we play, she's getting better and better. She was definitely a force today."
Manning added, "I thought Kellie Macdonald and Grace Rehnquist also came to play. They competed and made their presence known out there."
The Ephs look to rebound tomorrow at Trinity. Tip-off is at 2 PM. It is the final regular-season game for the Ephs.
Looking towards tomorrow, Manning said, "We just have to really let this go and pay attention to Trinity tomorrow. It's all about recovering. We play back-to-back; we're used to [a short recovery time]. We just have to regroup for tomorrow and do a better job, especially on the boards."