Women's Basketball Wins Third Consecutive NESCAC Tournament
Issue   |   Tue, 02/27/2018 - 21:09
Photo courtesy of Amherst Athletics
The women’s basketball team poses after securing its third consecutive NESCAC championship, marking Amherst’s 60th win in a row.

The Amherst women’s basketball team clinched its third consecutive NESCAC tournament championship this weekend, after crushing Wesleyan on Saturday and ekeing out a title game victory over Tufts the following afternoon.

The win over Tufts doubled as Amherst’s 60th consecutive win over the past two seasons, while senior Hannah Hackley tallied her 1000th career point in an 11-point effort against the Cardinals.

In the semifinal matchup at LeFrak Gymnasium, the Mammoths had no trouble with the Wesleyan offense, holding the underdogs to a 17 percent shooting mark from the field and overpowering the boards.

Senior Jackie Nagle was dominant down low, tallying seven blocks and snatching seven rebounds.

She and Madeline Eck ’20 also had the shooter’s touch — both put up a team-high 12 points in the win.

Hackley found the 1,000-point mark in the second quarter, giving Amherst a mental push for the next 10 minutes.

The Mammoths were able to burst out the gates after halftime and start the third quarter with a 12-3 run to extend the lead over the visitors.

The game remained a rout for the remainder of the contest, and the 58-31 score at the final buzzer sent Amherst running out onto the court to celebrate yet another spot into the NESCAC championship game.

On Sunday, during the matchup against the Jumbos, the Amherst student section in LeFrak was at its all-time rowdiest, as the highly-favored Mammoths stepped out onto the court to battle rival Tufts for the conference title. Despite Amherst’s conference dominance the past few seasons, Tufts only fell by seven points in the two teams’ regular season matchup.

The Jumbos got off to a strong start, leading 14-11 after the first quarter and 23-21 at halftime, but Amherst was able to regain composure in the second half and take the lead off a three-point play from Hackley, still hot the day after her 1,000-point milestone.

Amherst continued to attack after it got the lead, widening the margin to six thanks to free throws from sophomore Hannah Fox and Eck.

Amherst maintained a 35-32 lead going into the final quarter.

With 10 seconds left in the final frame, the Jumbos were trailing by four and threw up a desperate three-point shot, which fell harmlessly off the backboard and into the hands of the Mammoths, who proceeded to dribble out the clock.

The final score was 44-40, in favor of Amherst.

Eck led the Mammoths in scoring with 17 points, tallying two three-pointers and hitting jumpers from all over the court.

The win not only marks Amherst’s third consecutive NESCAC championship, but is the third consecutive year Amherst topped Tufts in the conference title game.

Tufts, who was seeded third in the tournament, still earned a bid into the NCAA tournament despite the loss and will be out for Mammoth blood should they meet later on in the postseason.

However, before any potential rematch Amherst will open NCAA tournament play this weekend, when it will host Becker College on Friday, March 2 at 7 p.m. in LeFrak.

The team is currently ranked first in the nation, and has won 60 straight games, dating back to the 2015/2016 NCAA Final Four.