Men’s Basketball Falls to Wesleyan on Last-Second Shot in Semifinals
Issue   |   Wed, 02/28/2018 - 16:42
Photo courtesy of Clarus Studios
Senior Johnny McCarthy posted 14 points in his last collegiate game.

This past Saturday, Feb. 24, a three-pointer in the final seconds of the game by Wesleyan’s Nathan Krill crushed the Mammoths’ hopes of advancing to the NESCAC championships and ended Amherst’s season.

After losing to Wesleyan twice in the regular season,, the Mammoths finally appeared like they had the No. 14 Cardinals figured out at the start of the game.

In the first half, Amherst jumped out ahead of the visiting team. The hosts maintained a lead as large as 16 points until the midway point of the first half.

Despite the Mammoths’ impressive start, the Cardinals were not so quick to accept defeat. Wesleyan went on a 16-0 run to erase the deficit and tie the game, 24-24, with about seven minutes left in the half. The game remained even after the Cardinals’ comeback as the visitors held a six-point lead going into the halftime break.

The second half resembled the last few minutes of the first half, as neither team was able to establish dominance on the court.

As soon as it seemed like either Amherst or Wesleyan might be able to pull away, their run was cut short by a crucial layup or three-pointer.

With less than one minute left, Amherst held a one-point lead over the pesky Cardinals and made a critical defensive stop with 37 seconds left that gave the Mammoths one last offensive opportunity to widen their lead further.

Unfortunately, Amherst was unable to convert. The fans and the bench were furious, as it appeared that there had been an egregious no-call on a foul against Wesleyan.

However, the Cardinals got the ball back with 16 seconds remaining and a chance to win the game. Wesleyan’s Krill, who had a team-high 29 points and shot 7-11 from the three-point line, sunk the dagger that left Amherst players and fans stunned.

The loss was truly heartbreaking, particularly for seniors Michael Riopel and Johnny McCarthy, for whom the game doubled as the final contest of their collegiate basketball careers.

Always strong on offense, Riopel led the Mammoths with 18 points and five assists. McCarthy followed closely behind with 14 points. Joe Schneider ’19 paced the team on the glass, collecting 10 boards in the losing effort.

In the championship game on Feb. 25, Wesleyan took on and lost to Williams, 70-58. With the conference title secured, the Ephs automatically qualified for the NCAA tournament, as did Wesleyan, even with the loss. However, the Mammoths season ended on Monday as the team failed to garner an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.