Men’s Basketball Extends Winning Streak to Five Games
Issue   |   Wed, 02/11/2015 - 00:02
Rob Mattson
David George ’17 is averaging 11 points per game this season.

The Amherst men’s basketball team built on its winning ways with a strong showing in two road NESCAC games this past week. Amherst came away victorious in both contests, mostly a credit to the team’s stellar shooting. With the wins, the Jeffs now stand at 17-5 overall and 6-3 in the NESCAC, and they sport a five-game winning streak.

A pair of 3-pointers in the opening minute for the Jeffs to kick off Friday’s night game against Connecticut College proved to be a sign of things to come, as Amherst dominated the Camels throughout the contest. The Jeffs started the game on a 19-2 run and drained five 3-pointers in the opening four minutes. Thanks to strong shooting throughout the half, the Jeffs would continue to build their lead.

The Jeffs led at 35-10 less than nine minutes into the game. They managed to push the lead to as many as 27 points, at 50-23, with 3:34 remaining, following a jumper by junior forward and captain Ben Pollack. In the final stretch of the half, the Camels mounted a little bit of a rally to finish before the break on an 8-2 run.

In the first half, the Jeffs’ 52 points came from shooting 48 percent on field goals and 50 percent from 3-point range (12-24 from beyond the arc). Many of Amherst’s scores from long distance came from junior guard/forward Connor Green, the reigning NESCAC Player of the Week, and guard Jeff Racy ’17. Green scored 16 points in the first half, hitting four 3-pointers, while Racy notched an incredibly efficient 15 points on 5-6 shooting from 3-point range in 11 minutes.

Racy, Green and the Jeffs were not finished, however, as Amherst’s hot shooting continued into the second half. The Jeffs continued to preserve a commanding lead in the second half of play and never looked back.

With 13 minutes remaining, the Camels cut the Jeffs’ lead to 16 points, but that was as close as they would get, as the Jeffs outscored the Camels 34-17 over the final 13 minutes of the game to secure a 94-61 victory.

The sharpshooting of Racy and Green certainly carried the Jeffs on the night, as the duo combined for 54 points. At one point during the second half with about nine minutes remaining, Green and Racy exploded for 11 points in about 90 seconds, as a jumper and 3-pointer by Green was followed by back-to-back three-point shots made by Racy.

Racy hit another five triples in the second half, on 5-8 shooting from long range, to finish with a career-high 30 points and a program record of 10 3-pointers.

“Jeff has always been a lights-out shooter, but now that we’re getting him good shots and his confidence is rising, he is a real threat,” Pollack said. “He rarely misses open threes, and put on an incredible performance the other night.”
Green scored another 8 points in the second half, including hitting two more 3-pointers, to finish with 24 points. Sophomore guard Reid Berman led Amherst’s passing efforts with 11 assists.

As a team, the Jeffs hit 20 3-pointers, accounting for a point total just one shy of the Camels’ overall scoring production. Amherst shot an impressive 45 percent on all field goal attempts and 47 percent on 3-pointers.

Racy’s breakout weekend continued the next day as the Jeffs faced Wesleyan the following afternoon, their second matchup with the Cardinals this season.

While the Jeffs were victorious in front of the home fans earlier on in the season, a road matchup against the Cardinals (who entered play with a key win against Tufts in the week leading up to the game) would prove to be a far more difficult test.
In the first half, the Jeffs appeared to be in control. They built a 19-10 lead midway through the half and grew the lead to 30-19 with about five minutes remaining. However, an 11-2 run by the Cardinals in the final portion of the first half sent the game into halftime with the Jeffs leading by a narrow margin of 32-30.

For the past several games, Amherst has shot the ball particularly well, and they continued to do so against the Cardinals, especially in the second half. As a team, the Jeffs shot 12-27 on field goals and 6-13 from beyond the arc over the final 20 minutes of game action.

Amherst’s strong shooting propelled them over the Cardinals, as the Jeffs outscored Wesleyan 44-29 in the second to finish with a key 76-59 victory.

Green, Racy and first-year guard Jayde Dawson combined for 35 points and six 3-pointers in the second half, as Green scored 14 points, Dawson had 12 and Racy had nine points.

Overall, Green, Dawson and Racy led the offensive production for the Jeffs. Green finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds to earn the double-double. Dawson had 16 points, and Racy posted 12 points on four 3-pointers. In two games this weekend, Racy scored 42 points and hit 14 3-pointers. Sophomore forward David George (9 points) and first-year guard Johnny McCarthy (8 points) were also important offensive contributors against the Cardinals.

In the week ahead, the Jeffs will close out the regular season. Wednesday night, the Jeffs host Lasell at 7 p.m. in LeFrak Gymnasium. For Amherst’s final regular season game, the Jeffs will travel to Middlebury for a key Sunday afternoon matchup against the Panthers at 2 p.m.

“We need to take care of business against Lasell, a team who we should beat but cannot take lightly,” Pollack said. “We also have to finish up strong at Middlebury, which is always a tough place to play. If we beat Middlebury, we can secure a home NESCAC game for ourselves, and that is huge for us.”