Men's Hoops Can't Solve Springfield
Issue   |   Tue, 12/04/2012 - 21:49
Niahlah Hope '15, Public Affairs Office
Junior guard David Kalema netted a career-high 22 points in the Jeffs’ 70-64 loss to Springfield.

After beginning their 2012-2013 season with three wins in as many games, the men’s basketball team looked to build on that strong start this past week.

With three more games on the schedule, including their first two road contests of the season, remaining undefeated would prove to be a tough task. The Jeffs did manage to snag two more victories, pushing their winning-streak to five games, but unfortunately, lost their final game of the week, their first blemish of the young season.

Despite the setback, it was a successful week for the Jeffs as they look to iron out the kinks in their system before the start of their NESCAC play.

In their first game of the week, the Jeffs earned an 89-74 victory over Lasell College in LeFrak Gymnasium. However, things did not look so good for Amherst early on, as the team got off to a slow start, surrendering the first eight points of the game.

To their credit, the Jeffs were not fazed by the early deficit. Responding to the challenge, Amherst quickly mounted a 10-2 run that narrowed the gap, eventually taking their first lead on a three from junior Aaron Toomey.

That lead would swell to seven behind another Toomey jumper and a bucket down low from center Peter Kaasila ’13, but that was as much margin as the Jeffs would get in the first half.

That deficit would get even smaller in the second period, as consecutive buckets by Lasell early on brought them to within a single point at 37-36.

Amherst, though, rose to the challenge, putting together a decisive 14-3 spurt that finally gave the team some breathing room.

Now with the momentum, the Jeffs continued to attack, building a 17-point advantage behind a pair of buckets from first-year Connor Green and a pair of free throws from Toomey.

With that big cushion, Amherst rolled through the remainder of the second half, coasting to the 15-point victory.

Fresh off that win, the Jeffs travelled to Westfield State Univ. to face off against Elms College. Led by a season-high 32 points from Toomey, Amherst pulled out a 79-63 victory in a back-and-forth game filled with runs by both teams.

Unlike the last contest, the Jeffs did not dig themselves into a hole in this one, instead jumping out to an early 15-8 lead. The teams traded small spurts, with Elms trying to cut into the deficit and Amherst attempting to pull away, but neither team was able to take control in first half.

Coming out of the intermission, Amherst finally pushed their lead to double-digits behind a lights-out shooting display from Toomey.

The junior guard connected on three triples early in the period, sparking an 18-6 run that gave the Jeffs a 15-point advantage.

The Blazers would mount a comeback, cutting the deficit to single-digits, but another Toomey three kept them at bay. A subsequent 10-0 run from the Jeffs, featuring one more trey from Toomey, helped Amherst build a 21-point advantage and put the game away for good.

While Toomey’s clutch shooting was certainly the driving force behind this victory, fellow guard Willy Workman ’13 also carried a heavy load, recording his third double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Tom Killian ’14 rounded out the Jeffs in double-figures with 10 points to complement six boards.

For the game, Amherst shot 40 percent from the field to the Blazers’ 30 percent clip, contributing to a 48-40 rebounding edge that was likely the difference in the win.

Playing again at Westfield State the following day, Amherst faced their toughest competition of the young season.

Springfield College — who the Jeffs had beaten 22 times in their last 23 meetings — had suffered only a lone loss on the year and was expected to be a solid test for the Jeffs. In the end, the battle in the paint proved to be the difference, as Springfield outscored the Jeffs inside by a 44-20 margin.

Amherst was also out-rebounded for the first time this season and, coupled with a poor shooting afternoon, 35 percent from the field, was unable to stay with Springfield in the second half.

Again, Amherst was plagued by a somewhat lackadaisical start to this game, missing out on opportunities to jump out to an early advantage.

Springfield, on the other hand, capitalized on those mistakes and managed to maintain a slender lead throughout the first half. Returning from the intermission, the Pride made their big push, surging ahead to take their first double-digit lead, 44-32, on a three by Jordan Rote. That bucket was part of an 18-6 run that eventually gave Springfield a 19-point lead with just under 15 minutes to play.

Amherst, though, did not give in, responding with a run of their own. Over the next six minutes, the Jeffs put together a 20-6 spurt, capped by a three-point play from Toomey, that cut the deficit to five.

The Jeffs would hang with the Pride from there, but were unable to get over the hump and take the lead. Missed opportunities cost the Jeffs, as they had three chances to tie the game or get within one in the last minute and could not convert on any of them. Instead, Springfield got away with missing four free throws in the final 30 seconds, winning by a final margin of 70-64.

For the game, the Jeffs were led by David Kalema ’14, who poured in a career-best 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

Workman also continued his stretch of great play, recording his third-consecutive double-double with 12 points and a career-high 13 boards.

Both players will aim to continue their strong effort this next week as the Jeffs play three times. Learning from their latest disappointment, Amherst will be looking to find their offensive rhythm and get back in the win column.