Men's Basketball Continues Strong Season with Crucial Conference Wins
Issue   |   Wed, 02/03/2016 - 00:21
Mark Box
Forward David George '17 lines up to take a key free-throw during Amherst's tight win against non-conference opponent Eastern Connecticut State.

The Amherst men’s basketball team finished up interterm with an impressive 16-3 record (5-1 NESCAC) and ranked 14th in the country. The talented team is currently averaging 83 points per game shooting 46.1 percent from field goal range and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.

After coming back with a win against Eastern Connecticut State 68-65, Amherst played their first conference game against Little Three rival Williams. Handling the Ephs easily with a home-court advantage, Amherst, led by Jeff Racy ’17 and Connor Green ’16, took the game 78-66. Each contributed 16 points with impressive individual performances from beyond the arc, Racy shooting 4-6 and Green 3-9.

With one conference win under their belt, the purple and white took on Wesleyan in a defensive battle, holding the Cardinals to just 40 points. Racy again led Amherst in points with a strong three for four effort from three point range and 12 points. Defense was the real key to this game however, with the Amherst defense holding Wesleyan to a meager 20.8 shooting percentage and allowing zero three point shots throughout the game.

In the final matchup of a four-game home win-streak, Amherst faced a strong Connecticut College team, narrowly escaping with an 88-86 victory. Sophomore Jayde Dawson led both teams in scoring with a collegiate career-high 26 points, while Green added 7 rebounds and the team as a unit shot 51.7 percent from the field. The purple and white took advantage of a double-bonus situation late in the game, Dawson putting Amherst ahead with two made free throws with eleven seconds left.

Hitting the road again, Amherst suffered only their second loss of the season at the hands of Wesleyan in a tough 71-44 matchup. Luckily, this game against Wesleyan was non-conference, as the purple and white were held to just 20.6 percent shooting from the field and 16.2 percent from behind the arc, a difficult night for a generally strong offensive team.

The purple and white rebounded with a strong win against Bowdoin 92-78. After being outscored 47-36 in the first half, Green’s 27 points helped to lift Amherst over the Polar Bears in the second half. Amherst bounced back after their performance against Wesleyan, again showing off their range with a 51.9 shooting percentage from the field and an impressive 42.9 percentage from three-point range.

On the road at Colby, Amherst suffered their first conference loss, shooting only 33.3 percent from the field. A strong overall performance from Green, who led the team with 13 points and 9 rebounds, was unfortunately not enough to sntach the win.
Jumping right back into conference action, Amherst beat Williams easily on the road this time, coming out strong in the first half, outscoring the Ephs 41-26. Dawson led the team in points once again with 17 in the 71-50 victory.

The purple and white closed out their five-game road trip with a win over Trinity, 89-82, on Saturday. Sophomore Johnny McCarthy led the team with 23 points while George added eight rebounds in the dominant effort. Amherst held a solid lead throughout a physical game, shooting 50.9 percent from the field to Trinity’s 38.8 percent.

“We’ve finally found our groove offensively and have started to work as a five-player unit collectively on defense,” senior captain Ben Pollack said. “That showed versus Trinity, who we beat to claim the number one spot in the [NESCAC] for the time being.”

At home on Tuesday, Feb. 2, Amherst returned to LeFrak for a non-conference matchup against Rhode Island College. The purple and white clamped down on defense and erupted on offense. After scoring 35 points in the first half, Amherst dropped a whopping 53 in the second, all while holding Rhode Island College to just 27.8 percent shooting. After all was said and done, the purple and white came away with an emphatic 88-51 victory.

Next up, the purple and white are on the road again for an in-conference matchup against Bates.