Sunday, May 19, 2013
By FRAN SYPEK Special to the Telegram
AMHERST, Mass. - The University of New England has come back from halftime deficits before.
But not this time and not against this opponent.
Amherst took control midway through the first half and eliminated the University of New England from the NCAA Division III women's basketball tournament with a 71-34 second-round victory Saturday night.
The Nor'easters saw their 20-game winning streak end. They finished 25-5 and advanced past the first round of the NCAA tournament for the first time.
"I'm proud of our seniors," UNE Coach Anthony Ewing said. "They will graduate as the most successful class in program history.
The game was a sharp contrast to UNE's 67-58 win Friday against Bridgewater State. Amherst (28-1) was aggressive on defense and would not let senior captain Beth Suggs dominate like she did against Bridgewater. With Bridget Crowley and Megan Robertson clogging up the middle for Amherst on defense, the Nor'easters were held to 19 percent shooting.
"They are an excellent defensive team and we knew it would be tough for us to get clean looks," Ewing said. "Their two bigs kids (are) tough down low. We knew it would be a tall order, but we thought we would do a little better defensively against them."
UNE kept it close for 10 minutes. A layup by Suggs at 10:01 of the first half tied the game at 16-16.
Then Amherst took over, outscoring UNE 14-3 over the next 10 minutes. A foul shot by Suggs and a layup by Meghan Gribbin were the only points for the Nor'easters.
"It was poor," Ewing said. "You just can't let a veteran basketball team finish the half with a run like that."
Things did not get better after the intermission. Amherst went on a 6-0 run to open the half, extending its lead to 36-19.
"We got into too big a hole and it was tough to fight back against a well-coached, disciplined team," Ewing said.
"We had our chances to make it close, but we just didn't capitalize on them."
Suggs led UNE with 10 points. Kelly Coleman finished with nine.
The Nor'easters had no answer for Amherst's fast break. Five players finished in double figures for the Jeffs, led by Crowley with 17 points. Amherst also outrebounded UNE 51-32, as both Crowley and Robertson finished with 11 rebounds.
"We've come back before, but you can't dig a hole against a team of this caliber," Ewing said.