AMHERST, Mass. – Wednesday night's women's basketball game at LeFrak Gymnasium was an uphill battle for Amherst College, as they trailed Little III rivals Williams College for nearly three quarters, but the Mammoths persevered to earn a 52-43 victory over the Ephs, clinching the Little 3 crown for the 2017-18 season and tying the program record with their 50th consecutive win.
The Mammoths improve to 17-0 this season and will have a chance to put themselves into the record book by themselves on Saturday when they play at Hamilton at 3:00 PM. Williams drops to 10-7 with the loss, but they made life hard for the hosts with a full-court press throughout the night.
Amherst fell behind from the opening tip and had to claw their way back from a ten-point third quarter deficit, finally taking the lead with 1:19 left in the period. They would not relinquish the lead through the final ten minutes, but had to fend off a feisty Williams team that got within a point with 4:12 to play in the fourth.
Madeline Eck '20 led Amherst (17-0) with 15 points, nine of them in the first half, where she shot 4-8 from the floor, but the Mammoths shot just 16% in the first quarter and Williams took a 22-19 lead to the locker room.
The Ephs, led by 18 points from Amanni Fernandez and 11 points and 8 rebounds from Kristin Fechtelkotte, took a 31-21 lead on a Fernandez three-pointer midway through the fourth quarter, the only time a team would have a double-digit advantage in the game.
Amherst went to work on their comeback with a 10-0 run which included two three-pointers by Hannah Fox '20.
Cam Hendricks '20 added a triple in the final seconds of the quarter, and a McNamara layup at 7:38 of the fourth gave Amherst their largest lead to that point, 39-33.
Fernandez hit another three-pointer to help Williams cut the lead to a point at 39-38, but a big layup by Hendricks and then six points by Eck finally gave the Mammoths a comfortable eight-point lead with fifty-eight seconds to play.
Fernandez made three straight jumpers to give the visitors a 10-2 lead in the first half, and Amherst was held to just five points, all of them by Eck, in the first quarter.
After falling behind 12-5 to start the second, the Mammoths scored the next six points to pull within one (12-11), and a three-pointer with eleven seconds to play in the half by McNamara kept the deficit to just three at the break.
That was the only three-pointer either team would make in the first half, as the sides combined to shoot 1-17 from downtown in the first two quarters.
Hannah Hackley '18 filled the stat sheet for Amherst with four points, five assists, three blocks and a steal. Fox added eight rebounds, three assists and two thefts to her 12-point day, while McNamara and Nagle each scored eight points off the bench, with Nagle adding two blocks and a game-high 10 rebounds.