Amherst moves on, 51-40

  • Amherst College's Hannah Fox, rights, drives the ball down the court under pressure from Montclair's Janae Mayfield March 9, 2018 during the NCAA Division III women's basketball tournament Sweet 16 at Amherst's LeFrak Gymnasium. For The Recorder/Sarah Crosby

  • Amherst College's Hannah Hackley, center, moves in for a shot under pressure from Montclair's Alex McKinnon, left, and Taylor Harmon March 9, 2018 during the NCAA Division III women's basketball tournament Sweet 16 at Amherst's LeFrak Gymnasium. For The Recorder/Sarah Crosby

  • Amherst College's Emma McCarthy, left, goes up for a shot under pressure from Montclair's Alex McKinnon March 9, 2018 during the NCAA Division III women's basketball tournament Sweet 16 at Amherst's LeFrak Gymnasium. For The Recorder/Sarah Crosby

  • Amherst College's Maeve McNamara drives the ball past Montclair's Janae Mayfield March 9, 2018 during the NCAA Division III women's basketball tournament Sweet 16 at Amherst's LeFrak Gymnasium. Montclair's Taylor Harmon, left, and Amherst's Emma McCarthy look on, at back. For The Recorder/Sarah Crosby

For the Recorder
Published: 3/9/2018 11:20:10 PM

AMHERST — LeFrak Gymnasium warps visiting teams. It turns them into the worst versions of themselves.

Montclair State entered Friday’s NCAA Division III women’s basketball Sweet 16 matchup with Amherst College as one of the most efficient shooting teams in the nation and a good rebounding squad.

The Mammoths held them to 22.2 percent shooting with 18 turnovers and outrebounded them 44-25 in a 51-40 win.

“We threw the ball away quite a bit, which is uncharacteristic of us,” Montclair State coach Karin Harvey said. “We struggled on the boards and had a hard time getting into an offensive flow.”

Amherst (33-0) will play Rochester in the Sweet 16 after the Yellowjackets defeated R.I.T. 59-55 before the Mammoths took the floor. Amherst, the defending national champion, has won 63 straight games and will play in its third straight Elite Eight.

“We’re fighting for each other, and we don’t want to let each other down,” Amherst sophomore Madeline Eck said. “We’re trying to get our ultimate goal, which is a national championship.”

Amherst possesses the best defense in the nation this season. The Mammoths allow 38.2 points per game, the fewest in the country by more than eight points, and hold teams to 27.6 percent from the floor on the season.

“I thought we dictated what we wanted to do defensively early,” Amherst coach and South Deerfield native G.P. Gromacki said.

Amherst forced 18 turnovers that led to 12 points and grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, scoring 11 second-chance points.

“They’re really lanky and long, their height was definitely different,” Montclair State senior Katie Sire said. “They made it really hard to get in the paint.”

Amherst led 11-5 after a quarter and stretched its advantage to 28-11 at halftime. Hannah Fox scored a game-high 15 points.

The Mammoths did it without their leading scorer Madeline Eck for most of the first half. She left the game with two fouls with 2 minutes, 27 seconds left in the first quarter. Amherst junior Meghan Sullivan, a Granby High School graduate, replaced her.

Amherst led 9-4 at the time, and Sullivan helped the Mammoths extend their lead.

“She came in and held her own. She came back ready to go (from injury) and got injured again, she’s fought through it,” Gromacki said. “She’s strong-willed. We’re happy she’s on her way back and ready to go.”

Sullivan played 16 minutes, her most since the opening round of the NCAA tournament. She scored 2 points and grabbed 3 rebounds with 2 steals.

Gromacki used his bench a lot in the second half, as the Mammoths led by as many as 18. Sullivan and her younger sister, Kate Sullivan, played together during that bench-heavy stretch. Kate Sullivan hit a 3-pointer and added a rebound and an assist.

“It’s incredible,” Meghan Sullivan said. “There’s only eight teams left and I get to play with my sister at one of the best schools in the country.”

Gromacki left his bench on the floor until Amherst’s lead shrunk to 14 with 2:07 left in the third quarter. Montclair State pulled as close as seven when Dominic Wrising made a free-throw with 6:37 left to make it 44-37.

Amherst responded with a 6-0 run that cemented its spot in the Elite Eight.




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