Amherst women dump Becker, 61-12

  • Amherst College's Madeline Eck goes up for a shot against Becker's Jazlyn Contreras March 2, 2018 during a women's basketball game at Amherst's LeFrak Gymnasium.

  • Amherst College’s Hannah Hackley, right, passes the ball off under pressure from Becker’s Jazlyn Contreras Friday night during a NCAA Div. III women’s basketball first-round game at LeFrak Gymnasium. FOR THE RECORDER/SARAH CROSBY

  • Amherst College's Hannah Fox, right, drives past Becker's Jazlyn Contreras Friday during a NCAA Division III women's basketball first-round game at Amherst's LeFrak Gymnasium. for the recorder/sarah crosby

  • Amherst College's Hannah Hackley, center, controls the ball under pressure from Becker's Kelsey Maynard, left, and Jazlyn Contreras March 2, 2018 during a women's basketball game at Amherst's LeFrak Gymnasium. Becker's Ciara McKissick looks on, at far right.

For the Recorder
Friday, March 02, 2018

AMHERST — So much for Becker being a giant killer.

After knocking off the top two seeds in the New England Collegiate Conference tournament, Becker was simply no match against the behemoth known as the Amherst College women’s basketball team.

Reigning national champion Amherst won its program record 61st straight game Friday night, beating Becker, 61-12 in the first round of the NCAA Division III tourney at LeFrak Gymnasium.

Amherst (28-0) will play Saint Joseph’s (28-1) of Maine, a 61-56 winner over UMass-Boston today at 6 p.m. in round two. Julia Champagne led Saint Joseph’s with 16 points, while Hannah Marks added 12 as the Monks extended their winning streak to 27 games.

“I was proud of the way we started and never let up,’’ Amherst coach and South Deerfield native G.P. Gromacki said. “We took their top scorers out of the game.’’

How dominating was Amherst?

The Mammoths held the Hawks to a mere two first-quarter points. Amherst led, 19-2 after the first quarter.

Amherst, which made its 11th consecutive tournament appearance, opened a commanding 24-2 advantage before Becker would get another basket.

Emma McCarthy led Amherst with 11 points and Madeline Eck finished with 10.

Defense, which has been Amherst’s calling card, was suffocating during that opening run. The Mammonths had at least two players collapse on an opponent any time a Becker player got anywhere near the paint.

“We’ve always pride ourselves on defense,’’ junior Maeve McNamara said. “We love being in LeFrak in March.’’

Becker, which beat No. 1 Newbury and No. 2 Mitchell in its conference tourney, attempted only seven field goals during the first 10 minutes and the only player from the Leicester school to connect on one was Adrianna Dowdy.

“We were in awe,’’ Dowdy said.

The defensive clinic put on by the Mammoths was hardly a surprise. Amherst is the top defensive team in the nation, limiting opponents to a 39.4 points per game average.

The Hawks were tentative at the start and could not combat the Mammoth’s quickness. Amherst was able to capitalize on Becker’s postseason inexperience.

Becker had 19 turnovers during the first half, including several when the shot clock expired. The Hawks simply could not find the open player.

Amherst took its foot off the gas pedal and the second quarter was much more competitive with the Mammoths outscoring the Hawks, 9-7. That was enough for Amherst to take a 28-9 lead at intermission.

“We were not real happy with the second quarter, but we picked it up in the third and fourth,’’ Gromacki said.

Amherst got back to its players in motion, quick-pass offense in the second half and continued to dominate. The Mammoths held the Hawks to three third quarter points.

“Going in, we knew it was going to be a tough matchup,’’ Becker coach David Bostick said.”Our girls played hard and gave me everything they had.’’