Amherst Looks to Repeat as NESCAC Women's Basketball Champions

Amherst Looks to Repeat as NESCAC Women's Basketball Champions

HADLEY, Mass. – Top-seeded Amherst looks to win its second straight league championship when it hosts the remaining rounds of the 2017 NESCAC Women’s Basketball Championship this weekend at LeFrak Gymnasium. Saturday’s doubleheader gets underway when host Amherst takes on fifth-seeded Colby at 2 p.m. Second-seeded Tufts will square off against third-seeded Bowdoin at 4 p.m. in the other semifinal game. Advancing teams will vie for the conference championship on Sunday at noon with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.

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Tickets for each day will be $5 for adults and $2 for students. All three games will be streamed online via nescac.com and live statistics will also be available.

Amherst (25-0) earned the top seed with an unblemished league record (10-0) thanks to a defense that has limited opponents to 40.4 points per game on 28.7 percent shooting, both numbers lead in the league in the respective categories. The Purple & White have only allowed more than 60 points in just two games this season during their 25-game win streak. Amherst, which is averaging 72.7 points per game, is looking to reach its ninth final in ten years and capture the program’s seventh NESCAC Championship.

Sophomore Emma McCarthy (Shelton, Conn.) posted game-highs of 19 points and nine rebounds to lead No. 1  Amherst past No. 8 Bates, 76-35, in the quarterfinals on Saturday. The Purple & White advanced to the semifinals for the 10th straight season. Amherst’s strong defense limited Bates to five points in the first quarter and four points in the third quarter as the Purple & White cruised to the win. Amherst has a balanced offensive attack which is led by senior Ali Doswell’s (Richmond, Va.) 13.1 points per game, while four other players are chipping in eight or more points on the season. McCarthy and senior Meredith Doswell (Richmond, Va.) lead Amherst in rebounding at 6.4 caroms per game each. The Purple & White are shooting a league-best 43.9 percent from the floor and have made a league-leading 198 three-pointers.

Amherst will face No. 5 Colby (13-11) in the semifinals. Senior MK Caverly (Point Pleasant, N.J.) scored a game-high 18 points and added a team-high nine rebounds to lead the fifth-seeded Mules to a 48-39 upset at No. 4 Middlebury on Saturday. Colby is in the semifinal round for the second straight year and a win over Amherst would propel the Mules into the championship game for the first time since 2010. Colby broke a 32-32 tie with a 7-0 run and used a strong effort from the foul line to earn the victory. Junior Haley Driscoll (Bedford, N.H.) scored six points and had a pair of rebounds in the final quarter to help lift the Mules to the win. Driscoll leads the team in scoring (12.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.2 rpg). Caverly is the league leader in assists, handing out 4.6 per game this season and has a team-high 44 steals.

Amherst is 5-0 against Colby in the postseason series and the two teams last met in the 2015 quarterfinals. The Purple & White earned a 69-43 road win on January 21 during the regular season.

Second-seeded Tufts (24-1) will have to get past No. 3 Bowdoin (21-3) if the Jumbos want to play in the NESCAC Championship game for the fourth straight year. The Jumbos are seeking their third championship in four years after falling by a point to Amherst in last year’s final.Tufts defeated No. 7 Williams, 58-40, on Saturday to move on to the semifinals for the fourth consecutive season. Senior Michela North (Duxbury, Mass.) recorded game highs of 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Jumbos. Sophomore Jacqueline Knapp (Westfield, N.J) added 11 points, nine in the first half, and collected three steals for Tufts.The Jumbos used a stifling defensive effort, forcing Williams into 23 turnovers, and held the Ephs scoreless for a stretch of over six minutes. However, Williams was able to cut the lead to 10 in the third quarter, but the Jumbos scored 14 of the final 20 points in the frame and were able to maintain a double-digit advantage the rest of the way. North is one of the top post players in the league and posted her 40th career double-double on Saturday. She averages 11.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 49.4 percent from the field. Junior Melissa Baptista (Somerville, Mass.) leads the team in scoring (12.6 ppg) and has made a team-high 30 3-pointers on the year. Junior Lauren Dillon (Wellesley, Mass.) ranks second in the conference in assists (4.1 apg) and has collected a conference-best 71 steals.

The Polar Bears punched their ticket into the semifinals for the 17th consecutive season by virtue of a 72-47 quarterfinal win over sixth-seeded Connecticut College. Sophomore Abigail Kelly (Bombay, N.Y.) sparked an 11-2 run in the second quarter, allowing Bowdoin to take a 33-29 lead at the break. In the third frame, the Polar Bears forced 11 turnovers and outscored the Camels 21-6. Bowdoin extended its lead to as many as 29 in the fourth quarter to ease to the victory. Senior Marle Curle (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) paced the Polar Bears with 13 points, while sophomore Taylor Choate (Nashua, N.H.) added 10 points. Kate Kerrigan (Wellesley Hills, Mass.) had a solid stat line with eight points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals to round out the top performers for Bowdoin. Kerrigan leads a well-rounded offense, as no player on the roster averages more than nine points per game. The Polar Bears average 74.8 points per game, while giving up just 50.8 to opponents. Bowdoin has won more NESCAC titles than any other team and has reached the final ten times in the history of the tournament. Bowdoin claimed the first seven NESCAC championships from 2001-07 and added another title in 2009, but has not captured the league trophy since then. The Polar Bears’ last trip to the championship game was in 2015.

Bowdoin owns a 4-2 advantage in the postseason series against Tufts. The two schools last met in the 2015 championship game with the Jumbos earning a 68-52 victory. Bowdoin fell, 46-43, at Tufts on January 6 in the NESCAC opener for both teams during the regular season.

Results for the NESCAC Women’s Basketball Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.