ST. PAUL, Minn. – The two-time defending national champion Amherst College women's basketball team will have to pass on their crown next weekend, as the #6 Mammoths were eliminated in the Sweet Sixteen by #2 St. Thomas (MN) 61-58 in an overtime thriller at Schoenecker Arena.
Cam Hendricks '20 sank a three-pointer as time expired in regulation to send the game to overtime and keep Amherst's hopes of a three-peat alive, but St. Thomas (29-1) rode a game-high 28 points from Hannah Spaulding to their 19th straight victory, improving to 16-0 at home.
Maddy Eck '20 scored 26 points, eclipsing the 1,100 mark for her career. Courtney Resch '22 added 14 points and made four three-pointers. She nearly replicated Hendricks's heroics, as her three-point attempt at the end of overtime hung on the rim before bouncing out to end the season for Amherst (25-4).
Amherst overcame back-to-back three-pointers by Kaia Porter that gave St. Thomas a five-point lead in overtime by putting together a 6-0 run of their own. Eck completed a three-point play and Hannah Fox '20, who scored ten points, hit a three-pointer and Amherst led 58-57 with thirty seconds left.
Spaulding made a pair of free-throws, then Lucia Renikoff came up with a big block on another Hendricks three-point attempt, also grabbing the defensive rebound and sinking both of her free-throws when she was fouled.
Amherst led by as many as three points late in the third quarter, after overcoming an 11-point deficit that the Tommies opened up after halftime. St. Thomas held Amherst to just four points in the second quarter, turning a 14-13 first period lead into a 26-17 edge at the break.
Amherst came back to pull within two points by the end of the third quarter, as Resch made four of her three-pointers and scored 12 points in the second half.
Eck will start her senior season one point shy of 12th place on the Amherst scoring list and needing 472 points to pass Meredith Doswell '17 as the all-time leading scorer. She scored 474 points this season.
Fox will begin next year just 34 points shy of the 1,000 plateau.
Amherst has not lost more than four games in a season in each of the last twelve years and has reached the Sweet Sixteen in every season.
St. Thomas will advance to play Wartburg in Saturday's Elite Eight. The Knights handed the Toms their only loss of the year, 60-40, on December 30th in Iowa.