MEDFORD, Mass. – Senior guard Ali Doswell scored a game-high 17 points and grabbed five rebounds for the No. 2 Amherst College women's basketball team during a nail-biting 36-35 victory over No. 1 Tufts University on Saturday afternoon at a jam-packed Cousens Gym in Medford, Massachusetts.
|Lauren Dillon recorded five points, five steals and three assists on Saturday.|
The rivalry between the two teams has reached a peak, as this marked the third consecutive time that a game between Tufts and Amherst has been decided by one point. The Jumbos' fell short to visiting Amherst, 50-49, in the 2016 NESCAC final on Feb. 28 and the Jumbos' defeated host Amherst, 52-51, on Feb. 6, 2016.
Junior guard/forward Hannah Hackley played the role of hero for Amherst (22-0, 8-0 in NESCAC), as she converted on the game-clinching, old-fashioned 3-point play, giving Amherst the lead for the first time in the game at 36-35 with 1:18 left on the clock.
The Jumbos' (21-1, 8-1 in NESCAC) took a 30-26 lead into the final frame, and then senior captain and guard Josie Lee scored three consecutive points from the charity stripe, giving the Jumbos a 35-30 cushion with 3:48 remaining.
Amherst ended the game on a 6-0 spurt, as senior forward Meredith Doswell, junior forward Jackie Nagle and Doswell each hit a free-throw attempt, setting the stage for Hackley's late-game heroics.
Junior forward Melissa Baptista tallied a team-high 12 points, corralled seven boards and posted a team-high three blocks, as she energized the Jumbos, scoring the first seven points of the game. She tallied a layup 16 seconds into the game, buried a 3-point shot 1:24 in the contest and finished in the paint with eight minutes left in the first, giving the Jumbos an early 7-0 lead.
The Jumbos' claimed a double-digit lead at 18-8 going into the second frame on a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Jacqueline Knapp in the final seconds of the first, assisted by junior captain and guard Lauren Dillon.
Amherst's defense clamped down in the second, holding the Jumbos to three points in the quarter, and the visitors' scored 10 points of their own and only trailed by three at halftime, 21-18. Doswell, who ranks No. 3 in the NESCAC Conference with an average of 13.5 points per game, posted a pair of clutch 3-pointers in the second, as her first opened up the scoring in the frame and the second cut the Jumbos' lead to 20-17 with 2:49 left. The Richmond, Virginia, native went 3-for-6 from downtown in the game, as she has shot 46-for-118 (39 percent) from beyond the arc this season.
Doswell opened the second half with a layup, but then the Jumbos' began to pull away again, scoring seven straight points. The run started with senior captain Michela North drilling a mid-range jumper with 9:18 remaining, and ended with made jump shots by Dillon and Baptista, giving the hosts a 28-20 advantage with 5:07 left.
The visitors' responded with a run of their own, posting six consecutive points. Dillon, who posted a game-high five steals, made a layup with 1:10 left in the frame, giving the hosts a 30-26 lead heading into the dramatic fourth quarter.
North and Nagle battled throughout the contest on the low post, as North scored eight points and corralled seven boards, and Nagle finished with five points, a game-high eight rebounds, a game-high four blocks and three steals.
The Jumbos are now 4-2 in their last six meetings with Amherst, as Tufts and Amherst have met on the big stage many times over the last handful of years. The Jumbos defeated Amherst, 62-46, in the 2014 NESCAC final and Amherst defeated Tufts, 47-42, during the third round of the NCAA Division III Tournament in 2013.
Both teams provided a great deal of defensive pressure, with the Jumbos' shooting 29.5 percent from the floor (13-for-44) and 15.4 percent from downtown (2-for-13). Amherst went 10-for-39 from the floor (25.6 percent) and 3-for-10 from 3-point range (30.0 percent).
The Jumbos honored their three-person senior class prior to the game, which includes Lee, North and forward Katy Hicks. The trio has helped lead the Jumbos to 109 wins and only 11 losses over the last four seasons.
The Jumbos will be back in action on Friday with a 7 p.m. matchup against Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Written by Trevor Wenners, Athletic Communications Intern