ROCHESTER, Minn. – Amherst College women's basketball has arrived at the Mayo Civic Center for the 2018 NCAA Division 3 Final Four to take place on Friday and Saturday, March 16th and 17th, and the defending champion Mammoths will face Thomas More at 6:00 PM EST Friday in the first of two national semifinals.
Here is the scouting report on the Mammoths, the Saints, and the two teams they could possibly meet in the finals, Bowdoin College and Wartburg College.
No. 1 Amherst Mammoths (31-0)
The Mammoths enter the 2018 Final Four as the defending national champions and the No. 1 team in the country. They have won 64 consecutive games and are shooting for their second consecutive back to back undefeated seasons. This year, the Mammoths have set the NCAA record for consecutive road victories (36), the program record for consecutive victories (51), and the NCAA D3 women's basketball record for scoring defense, allowing just 38.3 points per game.
This is the third straight year that the Mammoths have led the country in scoring defense (40.0 in 2017, 42.9 in 2016). They also lead the country in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 28% from the field.
Led offensively by the sophomore All-Region tandem of Madeline Eck (12 ppg) and Hannah Fox (11.4 ppg), Amherst also gets nearly ten points and a team-high 7.1 rebounds per night from Emma McCarthy '19. Senior Hannah Hackley is making her final go around, averaging 8.6 points and 3.2 assists.
No. 3 Thomas More Saints (30-1)
Thomas More's only loss this year came to the University of Rochester, who Amherst defeated in the Elite Eight to book their ticket to Minnesota. Since then, the Saints have won 29 in a row and they emerged from their quarter of the bracket by beating No. 4 Hope College 72-57 in Michigan.
Paced by D3Hoops Great Lakes Region Player of the Year Madison Temple and First Team All-Great Lakes selection Abby Owings, averages 86.2 points per game and shoots 49% from the field and 41.6% from three.
Temple finished fourth in the President's Athletic Conference (PAC), averaging 18.1 points per game and was sixth in the league in rebounding (7.0), second in field goal percentage (.566), first in assist (5.4) and fifth in steals (2.3).
Owings, a Jostens Trophy Finalist, averaged 14.9 points per game, shot 45.4% from the three-point line, and averaged 3.1 assists and 2.5 steals per game, both fourth in the league.
No. 2 Wartburg Knights (31-0)
The only other undefeated team in the bracket this year, Wartburg defeated #7 Trine and then upstart East Texas Baptist to get to the Final Four. The Knights are making their third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and their second Final Four appearance in the last three years. In 2016, Wartburg saw their season end in Columbus, Ohio with a 63-50 loss to Tufts in the national semifinals.
Wartburg boasts three players in double-figures, led by Katie Sommer, who was named D3hoops West Region Player of the Year. Sommer has a team-high 182 assists and 73 steals. Miranda Murphy, averaging 11.5 points per game and Morgan Neuendorf (11.4) also lead an offensive unit that is scoring 77.4 points on average each time they hit the floor.
No. 5 Bowdoin Polar Bears (28-2)
Certainly not an unfamiliar foe, Bowdoin's only losses of the year both came on the court at LeFrak Gymnasium, as Amherst defeated the Polar Bears 49-45 on January 27th in a battle of unbeaten teams. Tufts sent Bowdoin home in a neutral site game at Amherst during the NESCAC semifinals, but the Polar Bears turned around and ended the Jumbo's season in the Elite Eight, handing Tufts a 66-48 defeat on another neutral site at Scranton.
Senior guard Kate Kerrigan is the NESCAC Player and Defensive Player of the Year, and the NEWBA (New England) and D3Hoops (Northeast) Player of the Year. Kerrigan, the only player in Bowdoin women's basketball history to total more than 900 points, 600 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals in a career. In the last six postseason games, she is averaging 14 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals.
Junior Abby Kelly is leading the team in scoring while coming off the bench, averaing 11.6 points per game. Head Coach Adrienne Shibles was recognized as D3hoops.com Northeast Region Coach of the Year.