LAS VEGAS, NEV. -- The No. 6 nationally-ranked Trine University women's basketball team played its toughest opponent of the season against No. 1/3, and defending NCAA Division III National Champion, Amherst (Mass.) College and fell on the losing end of a low-scoring 41-36 contest in its final game of the D3hoops.com Classic.
The Thunder suffered their first loss of the season, ending an 11-game winning streak. The two teams combined for 32 turnovers in the affair with both teams struggling from the floor with Trine shooting 26.1 percent (12-of-46) and Amherst converted 27.3 percent (15-of-55) of its overall attempts.
Trine led by five points at the half, 24-19, but would only score a combined 12 points in the second, including just one made field goal in the fourth quarter, which proved to be the difference maker as Amherst combined for 22 points to prevail by five at the final buzzer.
Trine had a productive day from its bench with 15 of the team's 36 total points coming from its backups. The Thunder held their opponents to zero points from its bench for a 15-0 advantage. Junior Montana Martin (Columbia City, Ind./Churubusco) led all Trine players in scoring with eight points on three-of-five shooting (60.0 percent). Senior Jayde Abenth (Saginaw, Mich./Heritage) was second in scoring with seven points. Junior Brandi Dawson (Garrett, Ind./Garrett) led all Thunder players with seven rebounds.
Amherst (9-0) led for the majority of the first quarter and had a five-point margin, 8-3, at the 6:15 mark. Trine (11-1) came back to even the game with a pair of Dawson free-throws and a three-pointer by senior Hayley Martin (Auburn, Ind./DeKalb) with 3:09 left in the period. The Mammoths then ended the quarter outscoring Trine, 7-3, to take a four-point margin going into the second quarter.
The Trine defense held Amherst to just four points in the second quarter and just one-of-10 shooting from the field despite Amherst scoring the first points of the frame to extend the margin to six points, 17-11. A layup by sophomore Katy Steers (Portage, Ind./Portage) then ignited a 13-2 scoring run to swing momentum into the Thunder's favor with a 24-19 lead at halftime.
The Mammoths started the third quarter with six straight points to regain a 25-24 lead. The two teams then went back-and-forth on the scoreboard the rest of the quarter and battled to a 31-31 tie after three periods.
Following a Amherst layup for the first points of the final quarter, the two team's offenses fell silent for the next 5:49 when junior Cassidy Williams (Archbold, Ohio/Archbold) connected on one-of-two free-throws to make it a one-point game, 33-32, with 3:20 left. The Mammoths answered with five consecutive points to regain a six-point margin on their way to leading by seven points, 40-33, with just 13 seconds left. A three-pointer by Montana Martin would be Trine's only made field goal of the period which cut the deficit to four points, 40-36. But Amherst secured the win with an extra free-throw in the final seconds to go on to the 41-36 final.
Trine will return home to face another tough opponent in No. 4/7 ranked Hope (Mich.) College in a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association matchup on Wednesday, Jan. 3. The game is scheduled to be the first game played in the new MTI Center with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m.