After one of the most dominant stretches in NCAA Division III women’s basketball history, the Amherst women’s basketball team’s 68-game winning streak finally came to an end in a thriller against Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) on Tuesday in Lefrak Gymnasium, to stun the top-ranked team in the nation.
The final quarter featured a 17-0 run for ECSU, during which the Mammoths were held scoreless for almost seven minutes. Overall, ECSU outscored the Mammoths 26-8 in the fourth quarter. Mya Villard led the Warriors’ charge, scoring 23 points and making two key layups in the final minute of play. Hannah Fox ’20 and Madeline Eck ’20 were at the heart of the Amherst effort, logging 21 and 19 points, respectively. Jade DuVal ’22 also reached double-digit scoring with 13 points, while Dani Valdez ’22 finished just two points shy of a double-double, tallying eight points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Though the Mammoths ended up on the losing side, they finished on top in nearly every relevant statistical category, except shooting percentage, free throws and points. ECSU was hot from the field, shooting nearly 50 percent, while Amherst only managed to shoot 38.7 percent. The Warriors got to the line almost three times as often as the Mammoths, scoring 21 points off of free throws to Amherst’s seven.
However, before the loss, there were flashes of brilliance last week as the Mammoths got off to a strong 2-0 start at the annual Amherst Tip-Off Tournament. On Saturday, Nov. 17, the Mammoths opened the season with a dominating 64-35 win over Farmingdale State College.
Amherst turned in an impressively balanced performance, with 10 players on the roster scoring, including 31 points from the bench. Fox and Lauren Pelosi ’22 led the way with 11 points each, Eck added 10 and Valdez tallied seven. Meghan Sullivan ’19 had six points to go with five rebounds and three assists, and her younger sister Kate Sullivan ’21 had six points with two steals.
The first game of the year also saw three promising first years score their first points in an Amherst uniform: Gabrielle Zaffiro, DuVal and Courtney Resch. Cam Hendricks ’20, a two-sport athlete who had to make a quick adjustment from her season on the volleyball team, started the contest and added three points and seven rebounds.
The next day, the Mammoths clinched the tournament title in convincing fashion, beating Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 72-39. Fox was phenomenal with 23 points and garnered Most Valuable Player honors for the weekend.
Joining Fox on the all-tournament team were Eck and Valdez from Amherst. Valdez scored 10 points and had nine rebounds and has led the team in rebounding in all three of the Mammoths’ games thus far. Meanwhile, Eck dropped 14 points and grabbed eight boards in the championship game. Hendricks also added eight points with a pair of threes. The first year trio of DuVal, Pelosi and Resch scored six, five and five points respectively.
On Tuesday, Nov. 27, the women’s basketball team faced off against Emmanuel College in an away contest that saw the Mammoths emerge victorious with a scoreline of 78-48. Fox dominated the game, scoring 33 points, dishing four assists, and grabbing four rebounds.Three other Mammoths, Eck, Hendricks and Valdez, also registered double digit points.
Amherst jumped out to an early lead after the first quarter, and at halftime the score was relatively tight, 33-26. However, the second half saw the Mammoths pull away, as they outscored the Saints 45-22.
Amherst will next face off against Brooklyn College on Dec. 1 in an away contest.