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Amherst College cruises past Framingham State in empty gym for NCAA Tournament game

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  • Madeline Eck of Amherst College, top, shoots against Mary Kate O'Day of Framingham State, during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Maggie Shipley of Amherst College shoots against a pair of Framingham State defenders, during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Amherst College student section is empty during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 as Madeline Eck of Amherst College moves the ball against Mary Kate O'Day of Framingham State at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. In the afternoon, it was announced by Donald Faulstick, the director of Amherst athletics, that "given the rapidly evolving nature of the global COVID-19 outbreak" the college had decided to prohibit spectators. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hannah Fox of Amherst College, left, passes against Gwendolyn Carpenter of Framingham State, during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Madeline Eck of Amherst College, center, shoots against Framingham State defenders Mary Kate O'Day, left, and Flannery O'Connor, during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Maggie Shipley of Amherst College, right, looks for a shot against Flannery O'Connor of Framingham State, during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Maggie Shipley of Amherst College, left, looks for a shot against Gwendolyn Carpenter of Framingham State, during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jade DuVal of Amherst College, left, grabs a rebound against Flannery O'Connor of Framingham State, during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Dani Valdez of Amherst College, top, shoots against Emily Velozo of Framingham State, during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Madeline Eck of Amherst College, center, passes against Framingham State, during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Maggie Shipley of Amherst College, right, shoots against Mary Kate O'Day of Framingham State, during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Lauren Pelosi of Amherst College, left, moves the ball past Framingham State defenders Sarah Sullivan, left, and Mary Kate O'Day, during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Kate Sullivan of Amherst College, center, splits Framingham State defenders Katty Haidul, left, and Flannery O'Connor during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Kate Sullivan of Amherst College, left, moves the ball against Emily Velozo of Framingham State, during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Published: 3/6/2020 11:07:12 PM

AMHERST — The Amherst College women’s basketball team rolled to a 70-46 victory over Framingham State in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Friday night.

The victory came in front of a very sparse crowd for both tournament games held at Amherst. The school announced just over an hour before the start of the first game between Rowan and Merchant Marine that LeFrak Gymnasium would be closed to the public, due to concerns with the virus COVID-19.

Amherst is believed to be the first school in New England to bar fans from attending games due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) virus. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, which is hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Division III Men’s Tournament, also kept fans away.

“Given the rapidly evolving nature of the global COVID-19 outbreak, Amherst has carefully examined the information and guidance available to us and made the difficult decision to prohibit spectators at the NCAA basketball contests at LeFrak Gymnasium,” Amherst athletic director Donald Faulstick said in a statement. “... Please be aware that we are taking these actions out of an abundance of caution and being mindful of the health of the Amherst community, including the teams that are competing. We genuinely regret any inconvenience to the families and fans of the players.”

The listed attendance for the game was 12.

“It definitely was different, but you get so caught up in the game that you don’t even realize it until you take a look and you realize there’s no-one here,” Amherst coach G.P. Gromacki said. “The great thing about Division III basketball, it’s kind of clichè but, you play anytime anywhere, it does really matter. It would have been great to have our fans ... but we made it work anyway.”

Rowan beat Merchant Marine, 72-68, in front of a crown of 14. Amherst (23-4) will host Rowan (25-3) at 6 p.m. Saturday. Spectators are not allowed for the second round game as well.

For the Mammoths, their win was their 13th straight first round victory in the NCAA Tournament.

“The NCAA Tournament, that’s our favorite time of the year,” senior guard Madeline Eck said. “It’s easy to get fired up this time of the year. We hold ourselves to a high standard and are held to a high standard so we look to come out fired up and ready to go.”

Eck led the way for Amherst with 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Hannah Fox had nine points and six rebounds, while Kailyn Shepherd and Jade DuVal (nine rebounds) each had eight points off the bench. Kate Sullivan (Granby) had four points and two assists in 14 minutes off the bench.

It was a complete victory for the Mammoths, who jumped out to a 17-8 lead and never looked back.

“Driving to the basket, and not being afraid to get in there ... dumping down to post players and getting them involved is what worked,” Eck said. “We work a lot in practice on getting post touches, that’s something that we talked about early.”

Flannery O’Connor had 14 points for the Rams (22-6).

“We knew Framingham State had a lot of scorers, three people in double figures, and I thought in the first half we took them out of their game, gave ourselves a little bit of a cushion,” Gromacki said.




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