GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Doswell sisters did it all for the No. 1 Amherst College women's basketball team on Saturday.
|Josie Lee finishes her career with four trips to the Final Four.|
Ali dropped in a game-high 21 points, to go along with five rebounds and four steals, and Meredith tallied 10 points and nine rebounds, as the Purple & White held No. 4 Tufts University to two points in the opening 17:35 of the game during a 52-29 win in the NCAA Division III championship game on Saturday evening at the Van Noord Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The national title is the second in program history for Amherst, as the Purple & White finished the season undefeated at 33-0 overall and 10-0 in the NESCAC Conference. The Jumbos finish the season with a 30-3 record and 9-1 mark in NESCAC, as the 30 wins are tied for the most in program history.
The Jumbos have advanced to the Final Four in four consecutive seasons, including reaching the national title game in back-to-back seasons, as the team has compiled a 118-13 overall record and a 39-1 mark in NESCAC during that span under 15th-year head coach Carla Berube.
Senior captain Michela North, who finishes her career as the Jumbos' all-time leading scorer (1,568 points) and rebounder (1,071 rebounds), posted her 15th career double-double in the national tournament with 14 points and 10 rebounds, going 6-for-11 from the floor.
Sophomore guard/forward Emma McCarthy contributed with 11 points and five rebounds for the Purple & White, shooting 9-for-12 from the free-throw line.
Amherst, who ranks No. 1 in scoring defense (40.0 points) among all Division III institutions in the nation, came out of the gates playing a stifling brand of defense, while coming up with some timely baskets early in the contest. Neither team could get into any kind of rhythm in the opening minutes, but Ali Doswell put Amherst on the board with a drop step out of the post with 6:03 left in the first.
Meredith Doswell then buried a trey from the top of the arc, giving her squad a 5-0 lead with 4:46 left. Freshman guard/forward Erica DeCandido put the Jumbos on the scoreboard, as she converted a layup off a drive through the lane with 2:21 left. A fadeaway jumper by Ali Doswell sent Amherst into the second frame with a 7-2 lead.
Amherst dictated the pace of the game throughout the second frame, as the squad played a flawless brand of half-court defense, making the Jumbos work for every shot, while the Purple & White were disciplined in terms of boxing out on every shot attempt. The attention to detail resulted in Amherst scoring the first 11 points of the frame.
Ali Doswell, who was named the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Division III Player of the Year and NESCAC Player of the Year, gave her group an 18-2 lead with 4:28 left in the half, as she buried a trey from a few feet beyond the arc. North scored a couple late baskets, as Amherst took a 20-6 lead into halftime.
The Jumbos went 3-for-19 from the field and 0-for-6 from downtown in the first half, while Amherst went 9-for-21 from the floor and 2-for-6 from 3-point range. Ali Doswell scored 11 points in the first half on 5-for-9 shooting, while Meredith Doswell corralled a handful of boards.
The Jumbos erased a 12-point deficit with 5:30 left during a 60-57 win over No. 2/3 St. Thomas (Minn.) in the semifinals on Friday, so by no means were they out of this contest heading into the third quarter. If they wanted to get back in the game, they were going to need to make a run early in the third and that is exactly what happened.
Junior forward Melissa Baptista buried a 3-pointer from the top of the circle 1:08 into the third, Knapp hit a floater 38 seconds later and North hit a short jumper from the right baseline with 7:21 remaining, as the Jumbos' 7-0 spurt trimmed the deficit to 20-13. McCarthy cashed in on a pair of free throws, but North continued to work in the low post, cashing in on a turnaround jumper off the glass, cutting the deficit to 22-15 with 6:41 on the clock.
Amherst was able to force the Jumbos into the penalty, as McCarthy scored three more points from the line, and then with 52 seconds remaining in the frame, Meredith Doswell connected on a three-ball from straight away, giving the Purple & White a 13-point lead at 32-19.
The Jumbos were trailing by 11 points entering the fourth quarter and were unable to cut into the lead, as Amherst continued to get to the foul line and won the frame, 20-8. The Purple & White have now defeated the Jumbos in four consecutive games, dating back to the 2016 NESCAC final at Cousens Gym. The previous four meetings between these two rivals were decided by four points or less, with three of them being one-point games.
The Jumbos went 11-for-45 from the field (24.4 percent), 1-for-17 from the 3-point line (5.9 percent) and 6-for-8 from the charity stripe (75.0 percent), while Amherst finished 15-for-37 from the floor (40.5 percent), 3-for-7 from beyond the arc (42.9 percent) and 19-for-24 from the foul line (79.2 percent).
At the conclusion of the game, North and the Doswell sisters were all named to the All-Tournament Team for their sensational performances during the two-day event. Ali Doswell also earned MVP honors during the Final Four.
Written by Trevor Wenners, Athletic Communications Intern