Amherst women gain 5th straight Final Four berth

AMHERST — The scene at LeFrak Gymnasium after the Amherst College women’s basketball team’s win over Widener University on Saturday was a familiar one for anyone who has followed the program in recent years.

The Jeffs gathered around their coach and watched as a ladder was brought out to one of the rims. A pair of scissors was passed down a line from player to player. Another net — the fifth in as many years — was cut down.

Amherst is headed back to the Final Four.

The Jeffs (30-1) controlled their matchup with the Pride (24-6) from wire-to-wire, taking home the 59-45 victory and punching their ticket to the NCAA Division III Tournament Final Four.

The win was also the program’s 84th consecutive home win, and made the team’s three seniors — Marcia Voigt, Bridget Crowley and Jasmine Hardy — the winningest graduating class in Division III history.

Amherst coach G.P. Gromacki could not have been more proud of his team after the historic win.

“It was great to watch these guys perform at the highest level tonight,” the South Deerfield native said. “It was key play after key play. The seniors really stepped up in this game for us, numerous plays you could talk about for a lifetime.”

Of those seniors, Crowley was especially dominant. With Widener unable to counter her presence in the post, she scored 17 points, pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds and blocked three shots.

Voigt, too, was on target when it mattered most, scoring 16 of her game-high 19 points in the second half. She also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out seven assists.

And it was Hardy who put the final nail in the coffin with a straightaway 3-pointer with 2:39 left in the game to push the Jeffs’ lead back into double digits and break up the Pride’s final comeback attempt.

The Jeffs head to Hope College in Holland, Mich., where they will face the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Friday at 5:30 p.m. Williams College and top-ranked DePauw University face off in the other semifinal.

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The Amherst men’s team came out rested and focused for its 89-72 win over Plattsburgh State in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday.

The Lord Jeffs (26-2), who had not played since Feb. 24 and had a first-round bye, outshot and outmuscled the young and inexperienced Cardinals (20-9). Amherst used a 48.4 percent shooting performance to string together 17-3 and 20-5 runs and opened up a first-half lead that grew to as large as 26 points.

Aaron Toomey scored a game-high 25 points and made 6 of 12 3-point attempts for Amherst.

The Jeffs took advantage of their size in the frontcourt and outrebounded Plattsburgh 46-27, including a 16-7 margin on the offensive glass.

Allen Williamson, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds, combined with David Kalema (15 points) off the bench for a number of show-stopping dunks that stirred up a packed LeFrak Gymnasium.

Amherst will host Randolph-Macon in the NCAA Sweet 16 on Saturday. Randolph-Macon (21-9) beat RPI 79-68.

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