WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – The Williams College women's basketball team (11-12, 3-6 NESCAC) fell to No. 1 Amherst (23-0, 9-0 NESCAC) 55-44 in a home NESCAC matchup on Friday night.
Maggie Meehan opened up the game's scoring with a drive and layup on the Eph's first possession, putting Williams up 2-0 just 20 seconds in. Amherst tied the game up at five on a Hannah Hackley three-pointer with 7:30 remaining, and would then build a lead; a steal and layup by Hannah Fox put the Mammoths up 9-5 with 5:18 remaining.
However, Williams wouldn't let Amherst pull away; a Lauren Vostal three-pointer put the Ephs down just 11-10 with 3:37 remaining in the quarter. In the closing few minutes of the first quarter, Williams would be outscored 6-2, and would ultimately trail the Mammoths 17-12 going into the second quarter.
The two teams went back and forth in the opening minutes of the second quarter, and an Emily Chang three-pointer made it 21-17 with 7:56 remaining. From this point on though, the Mammoths grew their lead. A Cam Hendricks three-pointer with 7:42 remaining in the first half put Amherst up 24-17, and a Jackie Nagle jump shot made it 30-17 with 4:36 left. The Mammoths didn't let Williams creep much closer than this throughout the next few minutes, and went into the half up 36-24.
Immediately after halftime, Amherst grew their lead on the Ephs. A Madeline Eck layup with 7:38 remaining in the third quarter put Amherst up 43-24. After scoring slowed down for a few minutes, a step-back three-pointer by Emily Chang put Williams down 45-31 with 3:02 remaining in the third quarter. However, just as before, the Mammoths would re-extend their lead; a Hackley jumper with 46 seconds left in the quarter put Amherst back up 18 at 49-31. Going into the fourth, Williams trailed 49-33.
An Emily Peckham layup with 8:32 remaining in the fourth quarter put Williams down 49-35, but a pair of Amherst baskets grew the Mammoth lead back to 53-35 with 6:14 remaining. In the game's closing minutes, the Ephs would hang tough, preventing the Mammoths from growing this lead any more; a Katie Brule three-pointer put Williams down just 53-40 with 2:42 remaining, and a layup by Fernandez in the final minute cut the margin to 11 to end the game. The Ephs outscored Amherst 11-6 in the game's final quarter.
This was the second time this season that the Ephs played competitively against the defending national champions. With last year's sizable losses to Amherst in mind, Williams head coach Pat Manning commented on her team's current play: "A year ago we lost by 30. This year, we're competing much better, although we still need to get better at certain things."
Coach Manning noted that her team missed a number of opportunities: "We had a lot of opportunities in the paint and we just didn't finish. The Amherst defense makes it tough to score, so when you have the chance, you need to capitalize." Williams scored just eight points in the paint on the night, compared to the Mammoths, who put up 28.
Kristin Fechtelkotter led the Ephs with ten points and seven rebounds. Coach Manning praised Fechtelkotter's effort: "I think that Kristin really played her heart out tonight." Also leading Williams was Fernandez, who had nine points, four assists, and four steals.
Hackley led Amherst with 14, and Fox and Nagle scored ten apiece.
Williams returns to action tomorrow, Saturday, February 10th, hosting Hamilton at 3 p.m in a game that is crucial in terms of qualifying for the NESCAC tournament. Tomorrow afternoon's game is also the senior day game, and the Ephs will be honoring Fernandez, Fechtelkotter, and Lydia Zaleski.
Amherst also returns to action tomorrow, playing at Middlebury at 3 p.m.