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Back to back: Amherst women’s basketball bests Bowdoin to repeat as Division III national champions

  • Amherst College’s Madeline Eck attacks the basket against Bowdoin in the Division III national championship game Saturday in Rochester, Minnesota. COURTESTY CHRIS EBERT

  • Emma McCarthy, the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, drives against Bowdoin in the Division III national championship game Saturday in Rochester, Minnesota. COURTESTY CHRIS EBERT

  • Granby grad Kate Sullivan attempts a free throw for Amherst College against Bowdoin in the Division III national championship game Saturday in Rochester, Minnesota. COURTESTY CHRIS EBERT

  • Amherst College senior Hannah Hackley drives the lane against Bowdoin in the Division III national championship game Saturday in Rochester, Minnesota. COURTESTY CHRIS EBERT

  • The Amherst College women’s basketball team celebrates with the trophy after winning its second consecutive national championship. The Mammoths beat Bowdoin 65-45 on Saturday in Rochester, Minnesota. COURTESTY CHRIS EBERT

  • Granby’s Meghan Sullivan cuts down the net after Amherst College defeated Bowdoin in the Division III national championship game Saturday in Rochester, Minnesota. Story, Page B1. COURTESTY CHRIS EBERT

For the Gazette
Published: 3/18/2018 1:13:58 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. — After a dominant 65-45 win over Bowdoin, the Amherst women’s basketball won its second straight NCAA Division III National Championship on Saturday.

The Mammoths (33-0) have won 66 straight games dating back to the 2016 Final Four and completed back-to-back undefeated seasons. The win streak is the second longest in NCAA women’s Division III basketball history.

This was also the second straight year of an All-NESCAC championship after Amherst defeated Tufts last year.

“It’s an incredible feeling, I’m so proud of our team and the way they handled themselves all weekend,” Amherst coach G.P. Gromacki said. “It’s a special group that is the most resilient group I’ve ever coached.”

A game that pitted the number one and number five scoring defenses against each other started similarly to the game the teams played Jan. 27, which ended in a 49-45 Amherst victory.

Bowdoin got on the scoreboard first with a pair of layups from Cordelia Stewart and held a 4-0 lead at the first media timeout.

Amherst’s first basket came at the 4:25 mark in the first quarter off an Emma McCarthy layup. McCarthy scored all eight of the Mammoths’ points in the first to tie the game after one quarter.

The offenses picked up in the second, and Amherst built a lead as big as seven at 20-13. 

After a timeout, the Polar Bears (29-3) closed the gap and trailed 26-23 at halftime. 

Bowdoin tied the game up early in the third at 26, as the Amherst offense stagnated. The Polar Bears took the lead off a Kate Kerrigan floater with just over seven minutes left in the quarter. 

Just as she did in the first half, McCarthy scored the first points for the Mammoths in the third quarter.

At the media timeout in the third, Bowdoin held a slim 32-30 lead, but McCarthy struck again and tied the game with just under four minutes left in the quarter.

Amherst built off of her clutch play and took a six point lead into the final quarter.

Baskets by Hannah Fox and McCarthy gave the Mammoths their first double-digit lead with under a minute gone in the fourth.

The fourth quarter was all Amherst. The Mammoths outscored the Polar Bears 23-9 and led by as many as 23.

As they have for the past several years, the Mammoths used defense to win. They held Bowdoin, the number five scoring offense in the country, 35 points below their season average. The Polar Bears shot just 27.3-percent from the field. 

“We knew were up for a pretty tough fight and battle, but we clamped down and had great help defense,” Gromacki said. “Made it tough to tough to get the ball in, contested shots. They turned it up a notch at the right time.”

McCarthy finished as the leading scorer for the Mammoths with 25 points and also had a double-double with 12 rebounds. She was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player and made the All-Tournament Team.

“Emma did a great job. This game really encompassed what she’s done for us the whole season,” Fox said. 

Fox also finished in double figures against Bowdoin with 12 points and was also named to the All-Tournament Team.

McCarthy stressed defense was the biggest thing for the team, no matter the opponent.

“Defense is our game plan going into every game. All five of us out on the court need to be in sync for us to be successful, and I think our game plan was to come out and be strong and be in their faces,” McCarthy said.




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