Amherst is now in a class by itself.
The Jeffs women’s basketball team set an NCAA record, winning their 100th straight home game to break UConn’s record with a 73-63 victory over Baruch on Sunday.
“It’s hard to imagine, you never think you could do something like this,” Amherst coach G.P. Gromacki said. “It’s a testament to the type of players we have. We’ve had lots of great people come through here.”
The Division III school’s streak started with a one-point win over Colby on Jan. 31, 2009. The streak has impressed UConn’s coach Geno Auriemma, who saw his team’s 99-game streak end to St. John’s in 2012.
“That’s a lot of games and they probably sustained that through a lot of changes within the team,” Auriemma told The Associated Press. “It can’t be that their environment is way more hostile than anyone else’s so it’s got to be their culture and tradition of expecting to win. Anytime someone wins that many games in a row, they expect to win every game. There isn’t any doubt in their minds that they are going to win.
“What Amherst is doing is incredibly difficult to do, and, if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be talking about it.”
Amherst (3-0) hasn’t been challenged much at home since that first win over Colby, which came on two free throws with seconds left. On Sunday, Baruch hung tough tying the game at 59 with just under 7 minutes left. Amherst then took control of the game with a 10-2 run.
Like most of their other victories during the streak, Amherst didn’t celebrate much after the game. The PA announcer mentioned the milestone to the crowd which gave the team a standing ovation.
“It’s definitely an exciting milestone for everybody,” said senior Megan Robertson. “For this year’s team, hopefully it’s the first of many accomplishments to come. It’s exciting and I can tell people that I was part of the team that set this record, but we have larger goals.”
Robertson, who is sidelined with a knee injury she suffered in January, grew up watching UConn play.
“I wanted to play for UConn ’til eighth grade, but then I knew that wasn’t going to be a reality,” the Tewksbury, Massachusetts, native said.
The Jeffs are now 29 wins short of the NCAA men’s record set by Kentucky from 1943-55. The team set the D-III mark last season, passing Rust College’s 88 straight wins from 1982-89.
The Jeffs have been quite successful under Gromacki, who is in his eighth season. Amherst reached five straight Final Fours from 2009-13 and won the 2011 national championship.
“This is great, but hopefully it’s not the best thing we accomplish this season,” Robertson said.