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Amherst women’s basketball ends regular season blowing out Hamilton

For the Gazette
Published: 2/13/2019 10:47:38 PM

AMHERST — The Amherst College women’s basketball team ran away from Hamilton in the second quarter en route to a 77-48 victory in the regular-season finale, Wednesday at LeFrak Gymnasium.

The Continentals (10-12, 0-10 NESCAC), who did not qualify for the NESCAC Tournament, kept up with the Mammoths (22-2, 9-1 NESCAC) in the first quarter, but a 10-0 run in the second blew it open.

Fourth-ranked Amherst shot 50.9 percent from the field in the blowout, highlighted by a 5-for-6 performance from beyond the arc in the second quarter. Junior Hannah Fox led the Mammoths with 17 points.

“Hannah has big games all the time,” Amherst guard Meghan Sullivan said. “I think she gets underestimated with how much she does day in and day out, but she’s an amazing shooter, a great teammate and she’s always on her game. It’s been really great for us to have her have a big season.”

Fox finished with seven rebounds and four assists on the night, as well, while Sullivan recorded nine points. Maeve McNamara and Madeline Eck finished with 10 and 12 points, respectively.

“We knew they were going to come in with a lot of intensity because they had nothing to lose,” Mammoths coach G.P Gromacki said. “So, we just had to match that. Other than the first quarter we did.

At the end of the first quarter, the score was tied at 14. Amherst knew that it needed to make a change in the second.

“I think we just needed a shift in our mentality,” Sullivan said. “We came out pretty flat again, which has been one of our ongoing problems this season that we really need to turn around going forward. But I think what we do is we do it on defense, big plays like blocks or being in help defense, that’s where our offense really comes from. Even if we’re not getting fast breaks, the energy comes from the defense.

After a handful of steals and blocked shots, the Mammoths found their groove and built a 10-0 run. Marked by a couple timely 3-pointers, Amherst outscored the Continentals 23-10 in the second.

The Mammoths built a 37-24 lead entering halftime, but Hamilton pulled within 10 points in the third. Just two minutes later, however, Amherst locked down on defense, once again, and went up by 20.

“We did a lot better job, especially in the second half, of getting the ball inside-out and getting more open shots,” Sullivan said. “People were being aggressive all game, which is really important for us, and that type of intensity is how we get open and have a high percentage in games like we did tonight.”

The Mammoths, who earned the No. 2 seed, return to the LeFrak floor on Saturday at 4 p.m. when they face No. 7 seed Wesleyan (13-10, 4-6 NESCAC) in the NESCAC quarterfinals. The two-time national champion Mammoths will look to secure their third NESCAC title in as many years.

“We just need to bring more energy going into games,” Sullivan said. “But in general, I think we’ve been making progress throughout the season and we’re on an upward trend. Our coach always says, ‘We want to be playing our best basketball in March,’ and I think we’re on a great path to continue that.”

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