ROCHESTER, Minn. — Top-ranked Amherst went on a 25-2 run in the second half to earn its second straight NCAA Division III women’s basketball championship with a 65-45 win Saturday night against Bowdoin.

The game was tied 34-34 with three minutes left in the third quarter, but Amherst (33-0) held the Polar Bears (29-3) scoreless for the next eight minutes to deny Bowdoin’s bid for its first basketball national title. The Polar Bears’ only other appearance in the NCAA final was a loss to Wilmington (Ohio) in 2004.

Emma McCarthy scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Amherst, which extended its winning streak to 66 games. Hannah Fox added 12 points.

Lauren Petit paced Bowdoin with 12 points.

Until the fourth quarter, neither team led by more than six points. Bowdoin was ahead 4-0 midway through the first quarter as Amherst missed its first five shots, but McCarthy finally ended her team’s drought and scored the next eight points. Baskets by Kate Kerrigan and Taylor Choate enabled Bowdoin to pull even at 8-8 at the end of the quarter.

After Petit opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer, Amherst went on a 12-2 run, highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers from Cam Hendricks and Fox. The Mammoths led 26-23 at halftime.

Bowdoin edged ahead twice in the third quarter, the last time on a jumper by Abby Kelly that made it 32-30. A basket by Choate tied the game at 34-34 before McCarthy started Amherst’s decisive run with a pair of free throws.

The Mammoths set an NCAA record this season for team defense, holding opponents to 38.3 points per game. Amherst beat Bowdoin 49-45 at home in late January – the only regular-season meeting between the New England Small College Athletic Conference rivals.

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