Men’s Basketball Takes Ken Wright Invite Title, Begins Season on 3-0 Run
Issue   |   Tue, 12/01/2015 - 22:50
Rob Mattson
Over the course of their first four games, the men’s basketball team is averaging 94 points per game as well as 48 rebounds per game as a team.

The Amherst men’s basketball team opened its season with decisive wins in its first three games of the year at home in LeFrak Gymnasium. The fifth-ranked squad came out on top after the annual Ken Wright ’52 Invitational Tournament. During the tournament, the purple and white faced Johnston State College and Worcester State University, outscoring their opponents 201-131 combined. The following Monday, Amherst faced Anna Maria College and won 84-64 to start their season 3-0.

Amherst impressed in their first game on Friday against a tough Johnson State team, putting up double their opponent’s score with the score standing at 104-52 at the final buzzer. The purple and white took advantage of Johnson State’s lack of height, dominating the boards and finishing the game with 59 total rebounds and 10 blocked shots. David George ’17 led the team in rebounds with eight, while Johnny McCarthy ’18, Eric Conklin ’18 and Connor Green ’16 each contributed seven. The strong offensive rebounding effort proved vital to Amherst’s success, as 22 of their points were scored off of second chances against Johnson State.

Amherst posed a balanced offensive attack, with Jayde Dawson ’18 and Conklin leading the team with 15 points each, followed by Reid Berman ’17 with 14 and McCarthy and George each with 11. Amherst showed just how deep its bench is on Friday night, with every player seeing at least four minutes of playing time and all but two contributing points.

The Amherst bench scored 45 of the team’s 104 points, and the team had a shooting average of 46.9 percent on the court.

On Saturday, in the championship round of the tournament, Amherst faced a talented Worcester State team and pulled out a 97-79 victory. With more height and a much stronger offensive showing, the Lancers provided a challenge for the purple and white after their blowout game on Friday.

Amherst responded to the challenge by continuing to work hard under the boards to grab 49 rebounds, which resulted in 18 second-chance points. George led the team in rebounds once again, with a game-high 11 followed by nine from senior pre-season All-American Connor Green. After an impressive third-year season, Green has done a great job this year as a captain, consciously facilitating the game on and off the court, setting a strong example for this season’s young Amherst squad. He helped lead the offensive attack against Worcester State with 17 points along with Conklin’s game-high 18. Amherst’s bench shone again on the second day, contributing 42 points to the team’s effort and leading the team to the Ken Wright ’52 Invitational title.

Following up the strong opening to its season, Amherst jumped right back into action on Monday, facing Anna Maria at home. The score was close at halftime — Amherst had a season-high 16 turnovers, which allowed Anna Maria to stay in the game. The purple and white held just a 3-point lead going into the second half of play. McCarthy recorded his first double-double of the season, however, and helped lift Amherst to an 86-64 win over the wildcats. McCarthy led both teams in points and rebounds, with 22 and 10 respectively.

Jeff Racy ’17 and Conklin also contributed to the offensive effort, scoring 16 and 17 respectively, with Racy shooting 42.8 percent from 3-point range.

This Amherst team looks promising, with a talented first-year class that is already beginning to see playing time in the season. First-year Joe Schneider currently trails George with an impressive five blocks in his 13 minutes played over the first three games. As we enter regular season play in December, look to see a high-scoring, fast-paced Amherst offense dominate, while the purple and white stay tough on the boards and take advantage of second chances down low. Amherst’s next game is Saturday, Dec. 5 at Emerson, followed by a mid-week trip to Brandeis University on Tuesday, Dec. 8.