Eastern Conn. pulls off mammoth upset

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Eastern Connecticut file photo of women's basketball team on defense.
Eastern Connecticut held Amherst to just 4-for-19 shooting in the fourth quarter and outrebounded the Mammoths 16-5 to fuel its run to an upset.
Eastern Connecticut athletics file photo

Amherst came into the night with a 68-game winning streak and left it looking for answers as Eastern Connecticut roared back from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Mammoths, 70-67. 

Eastern Connecticut, which had lost by 20 points to Trinity (Conn.) out of the NESCAC on Saturday, went on a 22-4 run in the fourth quarter on Tuesday night, taking the lead when Mya Villard hit a layup with 57 seconds left to give the Warriors a 66-65 advantage. Hannah Fox answered with a layup 12 seconds later to help the Mammoths (2-1) retake the lead, but the Warriors retook the lead on another Villard bucket with 33 seconds left. She also got a defensive rebound off of a Fox miss and Julie Keckler hit two free throws to make the lead three points before Amherst missed another 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

Amherst has won the past two Division III women's basketball national championships. 

The Warriors (2-1) were helped by getting into the bonus early in the fourth quarter, coach Denise Bierly told D3hoops.com, but also had some success pressuring Amherst: "We put a 1-2-1-1 press on them and they didn't turn it over, but they shot quick, missed and we got the ball right back. I think between that and the kids recognizing we had free throws, they were very aggressive driving the ball, shooting ball fakes and getting to the rim."

Eastern Connecticut limited Amherst to 4-for-19 shooting in the fourth quarter and outrebounded the Mammoths 16-5.

"My team did a great job boxing out in the fourth quarter," Bierly said. "Obviously they (Amherst) have the length on everyone they play, so it was just a matter of carving out space for ourselves. I feel like if there was a 50-50 ball in that fourth quarter, we were getting every single one of them."

Amherst led 24-16 after one quarter and 43-32 at the break behind 17 first-half points from Eck. The Warriors opened the third quarter on a 6-0 run and eventually cut the lead to just five points at 45-40, but Amherst responded with layups by Fox, Sullivan and Jade Duval to get the lead back in double figures before Eastern Connecticut started its fourth-quarter run.

Amherst's loss will likely open up the top spot when the first Top 25 poll of the regular season is released on Monday. No. 2 Bowdoin made its case for consideration by trouncing the University of New England, 106-55. The Polar Bears (3-0) have won their first three games by an average of 51 points.

No. 21 UW-Whitewater women's outscored No. 12 Illinois Wesleyan by 17 points in the second and third quarters combined Tuesday night in a 78-73 triumph at IWU. The Warhawks (3-1) shot 64.7 percent (11-of-17) in the third quarter to take a four-point lead into the fourth quarter, when the team scored the last seven points of the contest to emerge with a crucial road win. Junior guard Becky Raeder collected a career-high 21 points on 7-of-10 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line to lead UW-Whitewater, which made 15-of-16 foul shots, including 5-of-5 over the final 1:04 of regulation.

William Paterson (1-3, 0-1 NJAC) rallied from a halftime deficit to make it a one-possession game late in the fourth quarter but couldn't overtake Montclair State (3-1, 1-0), falling 58-52. Montclair State, which was led by Alex McKinnon's 19 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, hit nine consecutive shots from the foul line to seal the win.

Outside the Top 25, DeSales continued its impressive start by dominating Moravian, 99-58. The Bulldogs (4-0) blew the game open with an 18-0 run in the second quarter that staked them to a 42-17 lead. DeSales shot 56 percent from the field and is shooting 51 percent through four games.

Hardin-Simmons defeated Trinity (Texas) 76-68 and improved its record to 4-0, as the Cowgirls' starting backcourt of Taylor Gaffney and Maria Fernandez combined for 30 points. Hardin-Simmons won just six games all last season.

Tuesday men's basketball: MIT goes long; Rose goes off

Dan Pilsbury rattled home a 75-foot heave at the first-half buzzer and Tim Roberts and Cameron Korb combined for 45 points as No. 5 MIT survived in overtime against Tufts, 98-92. Tufts (2-1) shot 17-for-26 in the second half and 5-for-7 from 3-point range to go toe-to-toe with the Engineers and finish regulation tied at 86. In the extra session, the Jumbos went just 2-for-10 from the floor and 2-for-5 from the line as MIT (2-1) held them off. Brennan Morris had 23 to lead the Jumbos in defeat.

Conor Riordan scored 26 points and Adam Reiter added 21 as Simpson improved to 4-1 with a 97-86 home win vs. No. 10 UW-Platteville. Robert Duax scored a game-high 32 points for the Pioneers (1-2), including 18 on 8-for-12 shooting in the second half, but his teammates shot a combined 9-for-26 after halftime while Simpson was 20-for-30 from the floor and 7-for-8 from 3-point range.

Brady Rose had a night, going off for 33 points on 12-for-19 shooting, including 5-for-10 from beyond the arc as No. 19 Illinois Wesleyan improved to 4-0, defeating Washington U. 92-85. He hit a 3-pointer five minutes into the game to give IWU (4-0) an 11-10 lead and the Titans led the rest of the way. Washington U. (1-2) was able to cut a 17-point halftime deficit down to eight early in the second half but could get no closer. The Bears were led by 28 points from Justin Hardy.

Dean College handed St. Joseph (Conn.) and first-year D-III head coach Jim Calhoun his first loss of the season, as Jordan Booker and Dayvon Russell combined for 51 points in a 94-75 win. The Blue Jays, in the first year with men's basketball, fell to 3-1 while the Bulldogs, a second-year provisional member of NCAA Division III, improved to 2-2.

The home teams went 5-0 with mostly comfortable wins in the opening night of Centennial Conference play. Zac O'Dell posted 15 points, 12 rebounds and six assists as No. 13 Swarthmore rolled over Washington College, 83-51. Joey Kern scored 18 points and No. 15 Johns Hopkins took care of McDaniel, 77-61. Those two ranked teams meet in Baltimore when conference play resumes on Nov. 29.

The NJAC had a more interesting opening night as Stockton and Montclair State won entertaining games. Stockton and TCNJ battled to overtime where the Ospreys overwhelmed the Lions 87-70. Keenan Williams shot 13 for 13 from the foul line in overtime and finished with 21 points. Akbar Hoffman scored 16 points and Montclair State fought past William Paterson 63-61. 

Ty Nichols scored a career-best 42 points and Keene State scored the first 10 points in overtime to put Albertus Magnus away, 105-96. Nichols shot 13-for-26 from the field and made 14 of 15 free throws in 45 minutes for the Owls. The Falcons got 52 points from their reserves.

Jason Beckman scored 33 points in 37 minutes for Hope and the Flying Dutchmen topped Ohio Northern 84-77 despite getting just seven points from their reserves. Beckman went 11-for-11 from the foul line while the Polar Bears were just 5-for-9 as a team.