No venue is safe for opponents of Amherst College women’s basketball.
Late afternoon on New Year’s Eve in Orange, Calif., the Mammoths were finishing off a 73-58 victory at Chapman University, setting the new NCAA Division III record with their 30th consecutive road win.
On Saturday another road win, a 72-34 victory over Hamilton College, marked another milestone, as the Mammoths set a new program record with their 51st consecutive victory.
Amherst, the No. 1 ranked team in the country and the defending Division III national champion, has started the season 18-0, and eclipsed the 2012 mark of 50 straight wins, currently the sixth-longest win streak in Division III women’s basketball history.
They have also added four more road wins to their total since 2018 began, bringing their record streak to 34.
“We work really hard for the records that we break,” says center Jackie Nagle ’18, “and I’m lucky to play here, where players take pride in what we do, and what our predecessors have done, and are happy to keep it going.”
Fans of Amherst are well-acquainted with the team’s successes under 11th year Head Coach G.P. Gromacki, who coached the women to national championships in 2011 and 2017, when the team went 33-0.
Visitors to LeFrak Gymnasium—where the program holds the NCAA women’s basketball record for consecutive home victories (121)—are regularly treated to the team’s dominance. Only the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team, with 129 straight home victories from 1943 to 1955, has outdone the Mammoths’ mark across all genders and divisions.
Now, in its road wins streak, Amherst is chasing the top women’s basketball teams across all divisions, including the mighty UConn, which is in the midst of an active streak of more than 40 straight road victories.
“Records are made to be broken,” says Gromacki, “and it’s fun to experience things like these records with a different group each year. We get people’s best games on the road, and at home, but we just try to stay focused on our end goals and play good basketball every game.”
While many of the wins during these streaks have come in comfortable fashion, Gromacki cites last year’s regular season road victory over Tufts, when the Mammoths trailed from the opening whistle until the final 1:18, as the most difficult game in either run. Wednesday night’s home game against archrival Williams proved another tough act, as Amherst fell behind by 10 points in the second half before rallying to a nine-point victory to tie the program record at 50.
Nagle, who has played in 90 games in her career, also cited Tufts and Bowdoin as the toughest road gyms to play in. Nagle was on the court on Nov. 23, 2014— the third game of her collegiate career—when Amherst broke UConn’s home wins record with its 100th straight victory.
“I didn’t totally understand it – I was so new here that I had barely won any games at all,” said Nagle, one of three seniors on the team, along with Jenna Schumacher and Hannah Hackley. “Now that I am a senior I can appreciate it, and I’m most proud that when that streak ended, it didn’t shape our understanding of who we were or what we had done. We learned how to fight on through adversity, and I think if either of these streaks ends, we would do that again.”
Nagle and Gromacki agree that the team’s goal is to win another championship, whether that means running the table or not.
“I would 100 percent trade a loss and an end of these streaks for another national championship,” says Nagle with a smile.
If the Mammoths do get to the Final Four for the third straight year, their opponents can at least take comfort in the fact that it would be on a neutral court.