Men's Basketball Defeats Emerson, Suffers First Loss to Brandeis
Issue   |   Tue, 12/09/2014 - 23:54
Henry Amistadi
Reid Berman '17 leads the Jeffs with 28 assists this season.

After winning the Ken Wright Invitational Tournament and beginning the season at 4-0, the men’s basketball team earned a win against Emerson before falling to Brandeis at home this past week. With the Jeffs’ two most recent games, Amherst now stands at 5-1 on the young season.

On Saturday at home, the Jeffs exacted revenge on Emerson after the Lions were able to pull off the upset over Amherst last December.

At the end of the first half, the Jeffs seemed to be in control against the Lions, as they had a 39-28 lead over Emerson. While the two teams were trading points in the early going, resulting in a 7-7 score three minutes into the contest, Amherst proceeded to go on a 9-0 run to build a lead. Guard Jayde Dawson ’18 scored the first nine points of the game for the Jeffs.
However, Emerson responded with a 9-2 run of their own in short order, by narrowing the deficit down to 18-15 with 11:30 remaining in the first half of action.

After Emerson’s run, the Jeffs were able to re-build their lead before the halftime break, as the Jeffs outscored the Lions 21-13 after Emerson cut Amherst’s lead to three points.

While the Jeffs appeared to be in control, the relentless Lions stormed back once again. Over the first seven minutes of the second half, the Lions dominated with a 16-7 run of their own to narrow Amherst’s lead to 46-44. After a pair of foul shots by Emerson’s Michael Thorpe around the 10-minute mark, the Lions were down by just a single point at 51-50.

When it appeared that the Jeffs were in danger of falling to the Lions for the second season in a row, Amherst responded and rose to the occasion with a huge run of their own in the second half to seal the victory.

In about three minutes, Amherst once again built a double-digit lead with an impressive 11-0 run to make the score 62-50 with just under seven minutes to play in the contest. Guard/forward Connor Green ’16 and sophomore guard Reid Berman were key in this particular stretch for Amherst, as they accounted for all of the scoring in the 11-0 run. The Jeffs were not finished, as they continued to add to their lead after Emerson responded with a three-pointer of their own to make it an eight-point game. A pair of jumpers by sophomore guard Jeff Racy and forward David George ’17 allowed the Jeffs to take an 18 point lead with 2:41 remaining.

The Jeffs continued to grow the lead even further, and ended up with an 80-59 victory. After the Lions narrowed Amherst’s lead to 51-50 with just more than 10 minutes in the ballgame, the Jeffs managed to outscore the Lions 29-9 to finish the game.

In the victory, the Jeffs benefited from a fairly balanced scoring attack. Amherst not only had four players reach double figures in points, but the Jeffs also had seven players who scored seven points or more against Emerson.

Green led the way with 18 points in the game and also had seven rebounds. Forward Jacob Nabatoff ’17 had 15 points and eight boards, Dawson poured in 12 points for the Jeffs, while shooting 50 percent on field goals, in just 20 minutes of action, and sophomore forward Eric Conklin had 10 points and grabbed six rebounds. Berman posted nine points for the Jeffs, while George and first-year guard/forward Johnny McCarthy each had seven points. George and McCarthy managed to contribute in other ways as well, as George had six rebounds (including four offensive rebounds) and two blocks, while McCarthy had seven rebounds and a whopping six steals.

The Lions had two players notch double digits, as both Thorpe and Taylor Hallowell scored 14 points for Emerson.

“In the first half against Emerson, we were standing around and not playing team basketball,” junior captain and forward Ben Pollack said. “But then, in the second half, we went on a really big run, and our offense was going well and people were making plays.”

Monday night, the Jeffs took on Brandeis Judges at home. About 10 minutes into the game, the Jeffs held a 29-22 lead over the Judges. However, Brandeis benefitted from a 9-0 to pull ahead, and another 7-1 run later on in the half. At the half, Amherst was trailing the Judges by six points, as Brandeis held a 40-34 lead.

Early in the second half, the Jeffs were able to narrow Brandeis’ lead to as little as one point, but the Amherst offense soon went stagnant, as the Judges seemed to take control in the second half.

With the score 41-40, the Judges outplayed Amherst the rest of the way. The Judges led the Jeffs by double digits at 55-45 with about 11 minutes remaining and ended the game on a 37-18 run in their 78-58 win over the Jeffs. With the victory, Brandeis improved to 3-5 on the season and 3-1 over the past four games.

Four players accounted for the majority of the scoring for the Jeffs, as Green had 18 points, Nabatoff scored 13 points, while Dawson and McCarthy added 10 points and nine points, respectively.

On Thursday evening, the Jeffs will host a talented Babson squad at 7 p.m. in LeFrak Gymnasium. The Babson Beavers currently stand at 7-1 on the season and have already earned wins against two NESCAC opponents (a 68-48 win over Bowdoin and a 68-63 victory over Tufts). Last season, Amherst earned a 90-77 victory over the Beavers on the road, which was a game in which Green scored 26 points for the Jeffs.

In the weeks ahead, the Jeffs will to continue to improve and build upon their experiences so far, with a lot of promising young talent on the squad.

Pollack made note of the fact that the 2014-2015 season has been a learning process for the team so far.

“Our offense relies upon fluidity and execution, and it really takes time to learn the system,” Pollack said. “It takes a while for us to get to know each other and to really get going, so we sometimes struggle offensively and defensively. In the past couple of games, we have been able to see how good we can be at times, with all of our potential, athleticism, and size. As we continue to gel as a team, and as we continue to further understand the system we run, the better we will be.”