Cardinals Takes Amherst Down to the Wire but Come up Short in NESCAC Opener, 41-37
In a game characterized by severe scoring droughts by both teams, undefeated and seventh-ranked nationally Amherst outlasted its NESCAC and Little Three foe Wesleyan in the opening women's basketball conference game for each squad, 41-37, Fri., Jan. 4. Amherst moves on the face Conn. College in New London, Conn. Sat., Jan. 5 to finish off its NESCAC weekend while Wesleyan hosts Trinity Saturday. Trinity defeated Conn. College, 52-41, in those teams' opening NESCAC matchup.
With Amherst leading 17-7 at the 10:07 mark of the first half, Wesleyan held the Lord Jeffs scoreless the remainder of the period to narrow the difference at halftime to 17-15. Amherst then responded by keeping the Cardinals off the board for 11 minutes at the start of the second period while rattling off 16 straight points for a 33-15 margin with 9:55 on the clock. Wesleyan countered with an 18-6 burst to make it a 39-33 game heading into the final 3:16. Neither team scored again until a pair at the line by Amherst with :23.9 left made it 41-33. When Wesleyan's Dreisen Heath '15 (#13, photo by SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com) canned a free throw and added a second-chance three-pointer with :02.9 left, Wesleyan's last four points were accounted for.
Both teams had abysmal days from the field as Amherst hit just 22.4 percent from the field and Wesleyan shot only 26.4 percent. The one bright spot for the Cardinals was a 5-for-9 performance from three-point range. Amherst hit only three of 20 attempts from behind the arc. Even free-throw shooting was off as the Lord Jeffs were 12-of-21 and Wesleyan, 4-for-12.
Wesleyan had no one in double figures as both Heath and Miller Hartsoe '15 had seven points to pace the Cardinals. Cherkira Lashley '15 had a team-best nine rebounds for Wesleyan.
The four-point margin was the closest result against Amherst since Jan. 7, 2009 when Wesleyan fell by a 57-54 count. Over the next eight meetings, the Lord Jeffs prevailed in each by double digits on their way to unparalleled success during the last five seasons with a collective 135-8 record to date.