The No. 7-ranked women’s basketball team left Saturday night for Jersey City, New Jersey to take on reigning NJAC Champion New Jersey City University in their first of two games this week. The Mammoths proved their dominance against the Gothic Knights, never trailing in the contest as they fought to a 76-68 win. Their lead gradually grew throughout the game: The Mammoths began the first quarter up by six, led by 11 at the half, and ballooned the margin to 21 midway through the third quarter.
Junior captain Reeya Patel ’24 opened the scoring for the Mammoths with two made free throws, and sophomore Maya Cwalina ’25 followed with a layup. Cwalina scored four of her eight points in that first quarter, helping Amherst to their six-point lead at the end of the first.
Over the next two quarters, the Mammoths would build off of that lead with key points from Kori Barach ’25 and Patel. However, midway through the second quarter, New Jersey would close their gap down to one point, 19-18. This time, Barach answered with a three of her own with three minutes remaining in the first half to make it 33-28 Amherst. A Barach defensive rebound then led to an Anna Tranum ’26 jumper that made it a seven-point Amherst lead. A pair of defensive rebounds led to two free throws from Barach and a jumper from Sylvia Liddle ‘26 came with one minute left to give the Mammoths their halftime lead of 39-28.
Coming into the third, the Mammoths dominated with a 13-point lead to build their lead to a 20-point advantage. This lead propelled Amherst into the fourth quarter where they were able to maintain their lead, ending the game 76-68 over New Jersey University.
Two performances carried Amherst to victory on Sunday: Barach scored a career-high 32 points, and Patel put in 21 points of her own. Barach also recorded her first career double-double in the game, adding 11 rebounds to go along with five assists.
After a long late-night bus ride back to Amherst, the Mammoths woke up the next day prepared to face their first NESCAC opponent of the season, Little Three rival Wesleyan University on Monday night.
In the first quarter, the Mammoths built an early 15-5 lead over the Cardinals, with eight total points from Patel and six from Barach to maintain the lead, at 21-11, after 10 minutes.
However, in the second, Wesleyan fought back, holding the Mammoths scoreless while they scored six points of their own to bring the score to 21-17. Patel, who added eight more points in the second quarter to go into halftime with 16, broke up the run with a pair of free throws. Amherst's defensive effort ramped up later in the quarter, as they held the visitors to just one point over a 5:39 minute span to finish the half, putting the score at 37-20 going into the break.
In the third quarter, though, the Cardinals came out of the locker room determined to close the gap, hitting eight of their next 12 shots from the floor, while Amherst went two for 10 over the same seven-minute stretch. The Cardinals also utilized an extremely effective zone defense to prevent the Mammoths from getting into the paint, where they’ve been most effective this season. All this being said, the Mammoths clung to a slim 49-44 lead after three quarters.
AnLing Vera ’25 opened the final quarter with a key three-pointer, but Wesleyan crept within two points at 52-50 with six minutes remaining. However, Tranum answered back immediately with a short jumper of her own to stretch the lead to four. Cwalina battled for an offensive rebound that led to another Tranum jumper on the next possession, and the momentum seemed to shift for good; in the final two minutes, Vera came up with two key steals, taking one coast-to-coast for a lay-up and another that led to two Patel free throws. With the game now mostly out of reach, the Mammoths iced the game at the line, and downed their Little Three rival 65-55.
Patel’s 26 points on Monday were the second-most in her career — that distinction goes to a 27-point effort in a win over the Cardinals almost exactly a year ago. Barach finished the game with her second straight double-double, with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Junior captain Abbey Skinner ’24 said “Playing back-to-back games isn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially after a long travel day, but we showed a lot of resilience in these last two games. Our offense has really started to flow, especially Kori [Barach] and Reeya [Patel] both putting up big numbers in the last few games. These were two great wins for us, being able to handle when our opponents went on runs. [We’re] looking forward to our last game of the semester this Saturday!”
The Mammoths will face their final opponent of the semester, Lehman College, on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. at LeFrak Gymnasium.