Amherst College advances to women's Final Four

For the Gazette
Published: 3/12/2016 11:11:26 PM

AMHERST -- For the first time in three years, the Amherst College women’s basketball team is back in the NCAA Division III Final Four.

Amherst earned a trip to Columbus, Ohio, Saturday following a 78-50 triumph over Rochester in an Elite Eight game at LeFrak Gymnasium.

No. 4 Amherst will take a 30-1 record to Columbus on Saturday. A win there would put Amherst in position to win a national championship in Indianapolis on April 4 -- a rare time when the Final Four and national championship games are held at different sites. Amherst last won a national title in 2011.

Amherst will face Thomas More (31-0) in Columbus. Tufts (27-3) and Wartburg (23-7) play in the other semifinal. In Amherst’s last Final Four trip, it lost in overtime to Wisconsin-Whitewater in the national semifinals.

Amherst outscored Rochester 26-10 in the third quarter to pull away.

“What an outstanding pace - I’m tired and I didn’t even play,” Amherst coach G.P. Gromacki said. “I am proud of them.”

Meredith Doswell (6 for 10 from 3-point range) led Amherst with 24 points. Ali Doswell had 16 points and seven rebounds. Hannah Hackley had 14 points, Jaimie Renner finished with 12 and Cheyenne Pritchard added 10 points and six rebounds.

“Cheyenne has been a big part of this team and she’s a big reason we are in the Final Four,” Gromacki said.

No. 16 Rochester, which closed at 23-6, was led by Lauren Deming, who scored 13 points.

“I was very impressed with Amherst,” Rochester coach Jim Scheible said. “Whenever we had lapses, they took advantage and when a team makes 10 3s, they are going to be tough to beat.”

Amherst outscored its opponents, Stevens Institute on Friday and Rochester Saturday, by a combined 64 points.

“This is a special team. We’ve battled a lot of adversity this year,” Gromacki said.

Amherst continued its up-tempo offense and stretched its lead to 58-40 after a driving layup by Renner with 4:24 left in the third quarter. Then it was time to slow things down, which Amherst did, and Hackley made a reverse layup with 2:50 left in the quarter as Amherst led, 64-40.  

“We had to start playing well again,” Gomacki said.

Amherst finished the third quarter with a 69-44 lead. It finished 14-1 at LeFrak this season. Tufts was the only visiting team to win (52-51) this season.

Amherst led by as many as 18 points in the second quarter before Rochester went on an 10-0 run to close to within 36-28. But Meredith Doswell hit a 3 and a driving sky-hook basket by Ali Doswell gave Amherst a 41-28 edge with 3:22 left in the half.

Deming connected on a 3 with 1:38 left in the half to get Rochester back within single digits, 43-34, which is the way the half ended after Amherst held the ball and missed a shot during the waning seconds.

Things started unusually slow for Amherst, which had four of its first five shots rim out.

It took Amherst 3:11 to score the game’s first points, which came on a jumper by Renner.

The slow offensive start did not follow Amherst on defense. Rochester was held scoreless for 4:20 before Deming hit a 3-pointer that gave the Yellowjackets what would be their only lead of the game, 3-2.

That lead lasted only four seconds as Amherst rediscovered its shooting range and went on a 15-5 run to take a 17-8 advantage in the first quarter.

Amherst finished the quarter with a 9-3 spurt that gave it a 31-17 lead.

Once again, Amherst took complete control of a close game and moved to a comfortable lead.

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