No. 1 Tufts Topples No. 4 Amherst in NESCAC Thriller

No. 1 Tufts Topples No. 4 Amherst in NESCAC Thriller

AMHERST, Mass. -- In a game of three lead changes and seven ties, No. 4 Amherst women's basketball took No. 1 Tufts the full length and forced overtime, but the Jumbos held out down the stretch to top the Mammoths, 48-46, in a thrilling New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) matchup on Saturday night at LeFrak Gymnasium. 

Dropping their second game on the season tab, Amherst moves to 15-2 overall and 3-1 in conference play, while Tufts increases their consecutive wins to 16 with a 3-0 mark in NESCAC competition. 

Aside from a three-pointer from Sadie Otley that tied the game at the 5:26 mark (6-6), the Mammoths led the majority of the opening quarter and saw their largest lead with three seconds on the clock when Hannah Fox '20 drained a three from just beyond the arc.

Up 16-10 entering the second stanza, the two sides traded buckets with the Mammoths lead hovering around five until a jump shot from Eck with 33 seconds left put the Purple & White up seven. However, DeCandido sank a pair of free-throws to cut the lead to five before the break.

Heading into halftime, Cam Hendricks '20 and Fox tallied five points apiece while Madeline Eck '20 led with a team-high eight points on 4-9 (44.4%) shooting from the floor. All but one of the Mammoths five starters were tied at three rebounds, respectively.

Leading with a game-high nine points, Erica DeCandido was 5-6 from the line and had two thefts, adding three rebounds, while the Jumbos shot 19.2% from the field in the first half and 20% from downtown.

Shooting 6-12 (50%) in the first half and 44.4% in the second, the Mammoths entered halftime shooting 50% from deep.

Opening halftime, the Jumbos came out with a backdoor cut to come within three points of the Mammoths. DeCandido scored on a step through to bring it to within one before Courtney Resch '22 followed up on the ensuing possession with the same move. 

Heading to the end of regulation, the Mammoths led 40-38 before a layup from Cailin Harrington tied it up. The Jumbos missed a jump shot at the buzzer, forcing overtime with the two sides notched at 40. 

Trading buckets with the score being tied three times, DeCandido came up big for the away side, scoring a layup with just over a minute remaining. 

Eck forced a turnover to regain the final possession of the game as Fox launched a three at the buzzer, but the ball hit the rim and out, solidifying the Jumbos triumph. 

DeCandido scored 18 points while Sofia Rosa matched her total with 18 herself on 8-14 shooting. Eck led the Mammoths with a team-high 16 points and five boards while Resch added eight rebounds and a game-high five blocks. Kate Sullivan '21 reeled in seven rebounds while Molly Ryan tallied a game-high three assists. 

The Mammoths shot 34.6% from the floor and 26.7% from downtown, while the Jumbos shot 31% from the floor and 12.5% from beyond the arc. 

Amherst has a three-day break before taking the court in LeFrak again when they conclude their four-game home stint with Williams in a non-conference Little Three bout at 7:00 p.m. Tufts heads back to their home court to play Babson on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.