AMHERST, Mass – The Williams College women's basketball team (10-7) lost at No. 1 Amherst (17-0) 52-43 in a Little Three matchup on Wednesday night. Although Amherst came out on top, Williams competed hard, leading the defending national champions for much of the game.
Williams jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a Mikaela Topper layup just 19 seconds into the game, and a Kristin Fechtelkotter layup with 8:16 remaining put the Ephs up 4-0. Williams would lead by as many as eight in the first quarter after three straight Amanni Fernandez jump shots extended the Williams lead to 10-2 with 3:17 remaining. After giving up an Amherst layup in the quarter's closing seconds, Williams went into the second quarter leading 10-5.
A Fechtelkotter jump shot with 8:58 remaining in the second quarter extended the Williams lead to 12-5. After this, the Mammoths bounced back, scoring six straight points; a Madeline Eck layup with 6:39 remaining in the quarter put the Mammoths down just 12-11. However, the Ephs would answer this Amherst scoring surge with a run of their own, and a Gabby Martin layup with 4:02 remaining put the Ephs back up 18-12. Williams led the Mammoths 22-19 at halftime.
Fechtelkotter led Williams with eight first half points, and Fernandez scored six. Eck led Amherst with nine first half points.
The Ephs' momentum from the end of the first half carried into the beginning of the third quarter. A Fernandez jump shot just a minute in was the first basket of the half, putting the Ephs up 24-19. Williams would extend this third quarter lead to as many as ten points, as a Fernandez three-pointer with 6:24 remaining put the Ephs up 31-21.
After the Fernandez three-pointer, however, the top-ranked Mammoths woke up, rattling off ten straight points to tie the game up at 31 with 2:21 remaining. The Mammoths would then take their first lead of the game on a three-pointer by Maeve McNamara with 1:19 remaining in the third quarter. Going into the game's final quarter, Amherst led 37-33.
A McNamara layup with 7:38 remaining extended the Amherst lead to 39-33, and at this point it looked as if the Mammoths might pull away. However, the resilient Ephs kept the game close. A Fernandez three-pointer with 6:38 left in the game cut the Amherst lead to 39-37.
Both defenses stepped up in the minutes to follow, but Amherst was finally able to take control. A layup by Eck with 1:46 left extended the Amherst lead to 46-40, and the Ephs struggled to hit baskets at the end of the game, ultimately losing by nine points.
Fernandez led the Ephs with 18 points. Williams head coach Pat Manning praised her captain: "I was really happy with Amanni's performance. She came to play and attacked all night." Fechtelkotter also led Williams, putting up 11 points and eight rebounds.
Eck led Amherst with 15 points, and Hannah Fox scored 12. Tonight marked the 50th consecutive win for the Mammoths.
Despite the loss, the Ephs put up another strong performance against a quality opponent; for the second time in three games, the Ephs led at halftime on the road against a top-10 team (Williams led 23-17 at the half against No. 8 Tufts on Friday). Coach Manning commented on her team's performance and improvement: "Overall we made Amherst work for it, and I'm happy with our effort. We're making progress with each game."
Williams will play Amherst again next month, hosting the Mammoths in a NESCAC matchup on Friday, February 9th at 7 p.m.
Williams returns to action on Saturday, January 20th, hosting Middlebury at 3 p.m, while Amherst plays at Hamilton on Saturday at 3 p.m.