Men's Hoops Comes up Short against F&M
Issue   |   Tue, 03/13/2012 - 22:23
Photo courtesy of Chloe McKenzie '14
Aaron Toomey ’14 finished with 21 points in a loss to F&M.

After a successful regular season that led to a NESCAC championship, the men’s basketball team entered the NCAA Tournament hoping to make a deep run to the Final Four. Their campaign started off well with a blowout victory over New York Univ., but the level of competition jumped up a notch in the Round of 16, where Amherst took on the Diplomats of Franklin & Marshall.

Leaving the friendly confines of LeFrak Gymnasium and playing on the road against the ninth-ranked team in the nation proved a tough task for the Jeffs, but they battled hard for all 40 minutes against the Diplomats. Amherst managed to take an early lead before a 16-5 Diplomat run put Franklin & Marshall ahead.

The Jeffs offense sputtered badly during this stretch, going over seven straight minutes without a field goal. However, Jeff Holmes ’12 and David Kalema ’14 led a strong Amherst effort for the last three minutes of the first half. Holmes scored four straight points, and Kalema drove to the basket for a lay-in before nailing a three pointer at the halftime buzzer to put the Jeffs up 36-35.

Despite the momentum shift in Amherst’s favor, Franklin & Marshall came out with solid execution and dominated the second half. The Diplomats immediately scored the first five points of the period and never looked back, extending their lead to 12 points at 57-45 at one point. Amherst hung close, keeping the margin in single digits for most of the half, but they could not muster the big run necessary to put the Jeffs over the top and lost by a 71-80 final score.

The Diplomats’ top-ranked defense stymied the Amherst attack and proved especially effective against the Amherst long-range shooters.

While the Jeffs normally thrive on three-pointers from Taylor Barisse ’12, Aaron Toomey ’14 and a host of other players, the team combined for a paltry 4-for-21 shooting performance from behind the arc.

In addition, Diplomat senior Georgio Milligan destroyed the Amherst defense, scoring 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting to lead his team to victory.

The Jeffs only managed a single player in double digits for scoring, as Toomey had 21 points. However, the star point guard was not immune to the struggles that the rest of the team faced, going only 6-of-20 from the field and 1-of-10 from three-point range en route to his 21 points. Aside from Toomey, the highest-scoring Jeffs were Holmes, Kalema and David Waller ’12, who dropped nine points each.

The loss snapped Amherst’s 13 game winning streak and puts their season record at 26-3. This stellar overall record, along with a NESCAC Championship, a 14-1 NESCAC record and a pair of All-NESCAC selections in Toomey and Willy Workman ’13, made for a successful season, albeit one that fell short of the ultimate goal.

The game also marked the last time seniors Barisse, Waller, Holmes, Tim Prowitt and Connor Johnson will put on the white and purple Amherst colors, leaving a void that next year’s team will need to fill in order to achieve the same heights that this squad has in the last two years.