Top-ranked Amherst Defeats Rochester in Elite 8

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AMHERST, MA – Top-ranked Amherst College gave every indication of why it holds the ranking it does. The Mammoth defends, hits the boards and takes good shots in a patient offense. Amherst is on its way back to the Final Four after defeating the University of Rochester, 62-38, in the Sectional Finals (aka Elite 8) on Friday night at LeFrak Gymnasium.
Amherst is 31-0 and 64-0 over the last two seasons. The Mammoth won the NCAA Division III national title last year, finishing 33-0. Rochester, ranked #16 in the poll and #15 by the WBCA, finished its season 24-5.
Ironically, the Yellowjacket women's record is the same as the men in 2016-17. UR reached the Elite 8 before losing to the nation's top-ranked team, Whitman College.
Lauren Deming and Lena Ethington were a nice one-two combination for Rochester. Deming scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds Ethington, who hit 6-11 from the floor, finished with 12 points, a career high. She grabbed five rebounds. In the two-game Sectionals, Ethington had 22 points and 13 boards. Deming scored 32 and grabbed 17 rebounds in the two games.
The primary defensive focus for Amherst was Rochester's Alexander Leslie. In the Sectional semifinal win over RIT on Friday night, Leslie scored 17 points and grabbed a career-high-tying 21 rebounds. The Mammoth was not going to allow her to catch the ball in scoring position.
In the first half, Rochester's shooting turned cold and Amherst was able to surge into the lead. Over the last seven minutes of the opening period, the Yellowjackets made just one field goal – a three-pointer from Brynn Lauer that provided a 9-6 lead.
Amherst scored 12 straight points, straddling the quarter break and opened an 18-9 lead with 90 seconds gone in the second period.  Madeline Eck scored six points, Emma McCarthy had four.
Ethington and Deming were the offensive spark over the first 20 minutes. Ethington had 10 points, hitting 5 of 8 from the floor. Deming had nine points on 3-7 accuracy and 3-4 at the line.
Rochester used nine players in the first half. Amherst, in its fashion, had balanced scoring among the five starters. Eck and McCarthy led the way with 10 apiece. Fox had eight plus a game-leading five rebounds.
At halftime, Rochester coach Jim Scheible stressed getting Leslie involved into the offense. "We wanted to get the ball to Al," he said, "but Amherst wasn't going to allow that. Lauren and Lena did a good job getting open looks for themselves."
UR came out of the locker room with a spark for the third quarter. Deming connected form the foul line. Lizzy Atkinson drained a three-pointer from the right arc, and Ethington drove into the line. It was 37-31. Amherst answered. The hosts scored 12 straight, building the lead up to 49-31 in the final minute of the third quarter.
Lauren Foley sank a trey from the key under a heavy rush. "If we could have made some more threes, that would have pulled them (Amherst) out defensively. We didn't and they stayed back," Scheible said. "It came down to making shots."
UR shot 34.8% for the game (16-46), 3-9 outside the arc. Amherst hit 54% (27-50). Four of the five starters scored in double figures. McCarthy ended with 17. Eck and Hannah Hackley had 15. Hannah Fox had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Four of the five starters played 39 minutes before the bench emptied. Cam Hendricks played all 40 minutes.