LAS VEGAS, Nev. – With both teams in the top five in the country in defensive scoring, Friday afternoon's battle between No. 3 Amherst and No. 6 Trine was always likely to be a low scoring affair.
Defense was indeed the difference as the Mammoths held the Thunder to just one field goal in the fourth quarter and won a battle of unbeaten teams 41-36 to close out their play at the D3hoops.com Classic at South Point Arena.
With a win in their first meeting against another ranked opponent, Amherst improves to 9-0 on the year and hands the Thunder (11-1) their first loss.
The teams entered the final ten minutes tied at 31, but Emma McCarthy '19, who led the team with a double-double of 14 points and ten rebounds, gave the Mammoths the lead with a layup in the opening minute of the period.
The score would stay at 33-31 Amherst for nearly six minutes. With 3:20 to play, Cassidy Williams cut the Trine deficit in half by making one of two foul shots, but McCarthy scored on the next possession and Hannah Hackley '18 hit a huge three-pointer with 2:17 left to open up the lead to six points.
Hackley finished the game with five points and a team-high four assists. Hannah Fox '20 scored ten points for Amherst, while Madeline Eck '20 grabbed nine rebounds and dished out three assists and Cam Hendricks '20 had eight points, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
Trine, who had only managed two free-throws in the fourth, finally got a field goal with 12 seconds remaining in the game, in the form of a three-point jumper by Montana Martin to pull the Thunder back within four points, but McCarthy made a final free-throw as the Mammoths held on for the win.
Montana Martin led the Thunder with eight points off the bench, while Hayley Martin scored six points and had five blocks.
Amherst took a 15-11 lead into the first period break, but scored just four points in the second quarter, a season low, as Trine surged back to lead 24-19 at the break. The Amherst defense held the Thunder to just 4-21 shooting and 12 points in the second half. They took a 31-28 lead on a triple by Cam Hendricks '20 with three minutes to play in the third quarter, but Montana Martin answered immediately with a three-pointer of her own before a scoreless final 2:30 of the period sent the teams to the final ten minutes in a deadlock.
The Mammoths will now move on to California, where they will ring in the New Year with a 7:00 PM game on Dec. 31 against Chapman. The Panthers are currently receiving votes in the latest D3hoops.com poll.