AMHERST -- For Pat Manning and her Williams College women's basketball team, the clock is ticking.
Manning and her players will anxiously wait until 2:30 this afternoon when the NCAA unveils its Division III Tournament brackets. Williams will look for an at-large berth after the Ephs were unable to close out Amherst and win a NESCAC Tournament title.
"We're all confident that we'll get a bid, but you never know," Williams guard Grace Rehnquist said after Amherst beat the Ephs 53-38 to claim the Jeffs' fourth-straight title . "If they re-seed tonight, they could look at our head-to-heads and re-seed us down. Hopefully, they see how challenging we are and we're capable of playing with the Tufts and the Amhersts and the Babsons. If they give us a shot, we're going to contend."
By winning the conference tournament, Amherst (26-1) earns the automatic bid into the tournament. Williams (22-5) and Tufts, the top-seed in the NESCAC tourney, are candidates for at-large slots. Tufts' loss in the quarterfinals could pave the way for the Ephs to get in.
"It's always up to the committee, but our league is tough. We could probably send three teams to the NCAA Tournament," Amherst coach G.P. Gromacki said. "You just never know where they send you or who they pair you with."
If and when that happens, Manning and her team understand that it will have to play a lot better than it did on Sunday.
Williams shot 12 of 42 from the field in the game, were outrebounded 41-32, had no offensive rebounds in the second half and committed an incredible 26 turnovers.
The Ephs trailed 18-17 at halftime, got up by four early in the second half, but saw Amherst jump all over them midway through the half. When Marcia Voigt drained a 3-point shot with 7:08 left in the game, the Jeffs were up 43-32 and that pretty much was that. Voigt had a game-high 21 points and five steals for Amherst.
After shooting 5 for 27 in the first half, Amherst was a better 14-for-30 from the floor in the second half. The Jeffs made twice as many shots as the Ephs in the final 20 minutes.
"We made such poor decisions," said Manning. "In the first half, I wasn't unhappy. I thought we played great ‘D' in the first half. I wasn't happy with our offensive execution. In the second half, we just fell apart. It was a very frustrating performance on both ends in the second half."
Amherst had a big performance off the bench from sophomore Savannah Holness who had 10 points and 7 rebounds.
No Eph scored in double figures. Ellen Cook had 9 points and Kellie Macdonald had eight.
Claire Baecher hurt the pinky finger on her right (shooting) hand early in the first half. She was off from the field, going 0 for 7, but was 6 for 6 from the line. The senior helped her team's cause with 10 rebounds, four blocks and four steals.
"We let them dictate what we were doing," said Baecher. "It was very frustrating because we know how good we are and we didn't play anywhere near that."
To reach Howard Herman:
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.