Div. 3 tourney: Smith College drains school-record 20 3-pointers in 100-50 opening-round rout of SUNY Morrisville (PHOTOS)


Staff Writer

Published: 03-03-2023 11:14 PM

NORTHAMPTON – Amelia Clairmont triggered an avalanche.

The Smith College junior guard hit the first shot of Friday night’s NCAA Division 3 Women’s Basketball Tournament opener against SUNY Morrisville: a 3-pointer from the left wing. Then she splashed another a minute later. And another after that. Then three more, swishing 6-of-6 in the first 8 minutes, 14 seconds as the Pioneers built a 26-point lead.

“I saw the opportunities when I was open. At this stage you’ve got to execute on them, and you’ve got to be ready for those shots,” Clairmont said. “Just felt ready.”

SUNY Morrisville was not ready for them to keep falling. Smith made a school-record 20 3-pointers as it buried the Mustangs 100-50 in Ainsworth Gymnasium.

“Our goal going into the game was to force them to shoot the ball from the perimeter and hope and pray that they didn’t shoot it very well,” SUNY Morrisville coach Erin Rotchford said. “That plan didn’t work out so well for us.”

The Pioneers (27-1) will face St. John Fisher (26-2) back at Ainsworth at 7:45 p.m. Saturday for a trip to the Sweet 16. The Cardinals defeated Marymount (Va.) 80-72 in the pod’s other first round game.

Smith set a school record with its 27th victory and won its 21st game in a row. The Pioneers also ran their home winning streak to 35. They haven’t lost in Ainsworth since Feb. 5, 2020.

Clairmont made 6-of-7 from beyond the arc, finally missing midway through the third quarter. She scored a career-high-tying 20 points in just 14 minutes and added three rebounds and two assists.

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Ally Yamada poured in 15 points on five 3s, including a buzzer beater to end the first quarter, and put Smith up 40-12 at the break. Salem Maher hit another four triples off the bench and scored 12 points.

“It was a really special first half,” Smith coach Lynn Hersey said.

The Pioneers assisted 34 of their 37 field goals. Dashelle Gleissner distributed 11 of those to go along with six points.

“We weren’t missing, and it was a really cool thing to experience with a team, especially when you get really good ball movement and everybody touching the ball,” Gleissner said. “Everybody feels like they made that shot happen.”

All 14 Pioneers played at least eight minutes, as their lead ballooned to 43 at halftime (69-26) and just kept inflating. It hit 56 with 7:58 left after Cassidy Creager hit a jumper. Smith registered 55 bench points.

“It’s just fun. We’re just laughing, smiling with each other,” Clairmont said. “It’s contagious.”

The only drama was whether they’d hit triple digits. Elli Potvin drilled a 3 with 2:25 to go that made it 99-45.

The Pioneers then missed two field goals and a free throw before Ella Sylvester sank a foul shot to hit the margin. Smith’s bench and crowd celebrated like it was a buzzer beater.

“We were ready for it,” Clairmont said.

Now Smith will turn its attention to the Empire 8 champion Cardinals eyeing a third consecutive Sweet 16 trip.

“I hope the confidence and our shooting carries over. This team is mature enough to know it’s a different team we’re playing,” Hersey said. “It’s a different defense, more pressure. Mentally it can help us, but we still have to prepare for the next game, which will be very different.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.]]>