SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (Nov. 22, 2011) – The Mount Holyoke College basketball team put an early scare into top-ranked Amherst College before falling 67-41 in its 2011-12 home opener this evening at the Mildred S. Howard Gymnasium. First year forward Amber Legare recorded 11 points and six rebounds for the Lyons, who challenged the reigning national champions with an impressive first half. They led 12-8 with just over eight minutes remaining in the opening period and trailed by just three points at the break.
In addition to Legare, Mount Holyoke also received solid production from its backcourt trio of sophomore Annabel Barrett, junior Angelica Pascual and senior Christine Chancy. Barrett finished with nine points and a career-best seven rebounds, while Pascual collected seven points and three assists. Chancy added six points for the Lyons, who converted 36.4% (16-44) of their shots from the floor. First year forward Nicole DeMarchena chipped in with eight boards.
Four players reached double-digits in the scoring column for Amherst, which ran its winning streak to 22 games. The Lord Jeffs were paced by first year forward Megan Robertson, who came off the bench to amass 16 points and seven rebounds. Seniors Shannon Finucane, Lem Atanga McCormick and Kim Fiorentino also turned in impressive performances at the offensive end, netting 11 points apiece. Amherst turned 31 Mount Holyoke turnovers into 31 points. They overcame some early shooting woes to make 33.8% (23-68) of their shots from the field and 73.9% (17-23) of their free throws.
Neither side led by more than five points in a first half that saw three ties and two lead changes. After falling behind 7-2 in the early going, Mount Holyoke rattled off six straight points to grab an 8-7 edge at the 10:44 mark. Chancy closed out the rally with a long jumper from the right baseline. The hosts enjoyed a 12-8 advantage after back-to-back baskets by Chancy and Barrett.
Amherst responded with a 6-0 run of its own over the next 1:30 to regain the lead. Robertson sparked the burst with a pair of jumpers. Refusing to go away, the Lyons battled back to tie things up at 14-14 on a Legare layup with 4:19 remaining in the opening period.
The Lord Jeffs then closed out the half with a 7-4 run to gain momentum. Atanga McCormick scored all seven points for the guests, converting a conventional three-point play and two layups. They took a 21-18 lead into the locker room. Atanga McCormick led all scorers with nine points at the break. Legare and Chancy had six apiece for the Lyons.
Mount Holyoke trailed 25-22 following a layup by Pascual three minutes into the second stanza. From there, it was all Amherst. The Lord Jeffs exploded for 10 straight points to create separation and led by as many as 27 down the stretch. Robertson tallied 12 of her 16 points after the intermission. Barrett had seven for the hosts.
Mount Holyoke (1-3, 0-0 NEWMAC) will open up conference play on the road against Smith College next Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Meanwhile, Amherst (3-0, 0-0 NESCAC) will host Keene State College on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.
Photos by Leila Quinn '12