BRUNSWICK, Maine – Fourth-ranked Amherst College led the number one team in the country, undefeated Bowdoin College, by 16 points at halftime, but the Polar Bears outscored the Mammoths 47-22 in the second half to rally for a dramatic 65-56 win on Saturday afternoon before a packed house at Morrell Gymnasium.
The Polar Bears improve to 19-0 (6-0 NESCAC) and claim sole possession of first place in the NESCAC standings. Amherst falls to 17-2 (4-1 NESCAC) with the setback and lose to Bowdoin for the first time since the 2015 NESCAC Tournament semifinals.
Amherst defeated Bowdoin 65-45 in last year's NCAA Division III National Championship game.
The Mammoths were in complete command in the first half this afternoon, holding an 11-8 edge after the first quarter but extending it quickly to double-digits in the second period.
Amherst opened the second quarter on a 9-3 surge and caught fire from the field, connecting on 9-12 in the stanza, including 4-5 from three-point range, to take a commanding 34-18 lead at halftime.
The tide turned quickly in the second half as Bowdoin burst out of the locker room on a 9-2 run, sparked by an Abby Kelly three-pointer.
Amherst pushed the lead back to 11 points following a running lay-in by Madeline Eck '20, 38-27. Eck led Amherst with 21 points and also grabbed five rebounds.
Bowdoin answered with a 9-0 run, closing to within 38-36 following another Kelly jump shot at 4:11 of the third. Kelly scored 13 of her team-high 19 points in the second half, while also grabbing five rebounds.
The Mammoths kept Bowdoin at bay until the final 90 seconds of the quarter. A Graham layup and Kelly three-pointer sparked a period-ending 7-2 run, giving the hosts a 46-44 edge heading to the final quarter.
The Polar Bears continued to roll in the fourth quarter, opening on a 6-1 run to open a seven-point lead, 52-45. Bowdoin led by as many as eight points down the stretch before Amherst began climbing back into the game at the free throw line.
The Mammoths scored seven straight points from the line to cut the Bowdoin lead to 57-54 with 2:30 remaining in regulation. Amherst closed to within three points on three occasions, including following a Courtney Resch '22 layup with 2:02 on the clock.
Bowdoin delivered the dagger on their next possession, however, as Samantha Roy took a cross-court feed from Kelly and buried a three-pointer from the wing with 1:31 to go, giving the Polar Bears a 62-56 edge.
Hannah Fox '20 added ten points and six rebounds, but couldn't hit from the field in the second half.
After shooting just 20% from the field in the first twenty minutes, Bowdoin hit on 58% of their attempts in the second half, including 4-8 from three-point range.
After a red-hot first half (58%), the Mammoths went ice cold in the second (23%), including just 2-13 in the final quarter.
Maddie Hasson went scoreless in the first half but had 14 points in the second half while adding seven rebounds.
Samantha Roy ended with 13 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals in the win for Bowdoin, who held a key 15-4 edge in second-chance points.
The Polar Bears will return to action at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday at home against New England College.
Amherst returns to action on Friday evening at Tufts at 7:00 p.m.