MEDFORD – In a battle of top-five teams in the country, No. 5 Amherst used a strong third quarter in which they outscored the Jumbos 20-10 to help guide them to a 50-40 victory over No. 4 Tufts on Friday night at Cousens Gymnasium.
After the win in a rematch of the 2019 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) title game, Amherst improves to 18-2 and 5-1 in NESCAC action. With the loss, Tufts falls to 19-2 and is 6-2 in conference play.
The Mammoths came out of the halftime locker room with a 19-15 lead and never lost that lead again. Amherst scored seven of the first nine third quarter points led by a three-pointer and two free throws from junior Cam Hendricks.
Tufts first-year Sophia Rosa converted a layup for the Jumbos' two points in that frame. Rosa and first-year Janette Wadolowski scored four unanswered points to get the Jumbos back as close as five with 4:23 left in the third, but the Mammoths went on a 9-0 run in which they made five free throws and two layups to push the lead up to 14 points. Amherst guard Hannah Fox '20 scored four of the final six points of the third as the Mammoths took a 39-25 lead into the fourth.
Both defenses set the tone early in this contest as there were only a combined four points in the first four minutes of action. Four early points from Meghan Sullivan '19 helped Amherst take a 10-2 lead, though the Jumbos would respond by scoring five of the final seven points of the period.
Sullivan recorded a double-double as she netted 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Madeline Eck '20 also scored in double figures with 10 points and was 5-7 from the floor. Hendricks and Fox each scored eight points respectively, while Fox dished out a team-high four assists. The Mammoths got at least five points from six different players.
Tufts senior Jac Knapp and junior Sadie Otley accounted for the only three points in the first six minutes of second quarter action as both teams continued to play tenacious defense. A pair of free throws from Tufts junior Erica DeCandido tied the game at 12-12 with 3:32 remaining in the second. The Mammoths ended the quarter on a 7-3 run in which Sullivan scored four points as she connected on a layup and jumper.
The Jumbos got as close as nine points late in the fourth quarter, when they outscored the Mammoths 15-11. Amherst senior Maeve McNamara netted a team-high five points in the fourth quarter.
For the game, Amherst shot 18-41 while holding the Jumbos to 12-55 from the field.
Both teams shot well from the foul line as Tufts was 14-17 and the Mammoths were 11-13. Amherst pulled down 35 rebounds and the Jumbos collected 33. Both defenses had active hands as there were a combined 29 turnovers in the game. Tufts bench produced 18 points while the Amherst bench netted five points.
DeCandido recorded team-highs in points with 12 led by shooting an efficient 10-11 from the free throw line and assists with four. Wadolowski was second on the team with eight points. Knapp and Rosa combined to score 10 points. Molly Ryan pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Eight Jumbos scored in the contest.
Tufts will play again tomorrow when they host NESCAC opponent Hamilton for a 3 pm tip off.
Amherst travels to NESCAC opponent Bates tomorrow with a 3 pm start time.