Men’s Basketball Defeats Bates, Falls in Showdown with Tufts
Issue   |   Tue, 02/09/2016 - 22:58
Mark Box
In Amherst’s game against Bates, an emphatic dunk from David George ’17 stopped a 10-2 run from the Bobcats and catapulted Amherst to victory.

The Amherst men’s basketball team split its two conference games this week, beating Bates easily on Friday night and falling in a close matchup with Tufts on Saturday afternoon. The men’s performances this weekend dropped them in the league standings to second place, behind Trinity and tied with next Friday’s opponent Middlebury for second place.

The men traveled to Lewiston, Maine to visit NESCAC rival Bates on Friday and handled the team with ease, using a balanced attack to record a 88-69 victory for the purple and white. Sophomore guard Johnny McCarthy, who contributed a game-high 25 points and 13 rebounds, led Amherst in the winning effort. Once again, Amherst capitalized on their sharpshooting from the field and from behind the arc. Led by McCarthy’s 5 for 6 effort from downtown, the purple and white hit 48.6 percent from the field and nine of 18 from three-point range.

Jayde Dawson ’18 also stuffed the stat sheet for Amherst, recording 22 points along with a game-high eight assists. The athletic guard also went 7 for 10 from the free throw line with three steals.

Bates took an early 4-2 lead, with both baskets coming from their big men in the paint, but a three pointer from McCarthy put Amherst ahead. The purple and white held the lead for the rest of the game, but the first half was closely contended. With eight minutes to go in the half, the Bobcats went on a 10-2 run that closed Amherst’s lead to two at 29-27, but an emphatic dunk by David George ’17 reinvigorated the purple and white. The George dunk, followed up by a McCarthy three, triggered Amherst’s own 12-6 run to close out the half at 41-33 for the purple and white.

The second half saw Amherst score 18 of the first 24 points to secure a 20-point lead. Dawson helped the visiting Amherst squad pull away, with 15 of his 22 points coming in the second. Dawson then capped the game for the purple and white when he swished a 3- pointer with a minute left on the clock for the final score of the game.

The next day, Amherst traveled to Medford, Massachusetts to take on Tufts. Although Tufts has suffered several in-conference losses, they are arguably the most evenly matched team for Amherst in the NESCAC. These two teams average the most points per game in the conference as well as the most three-point shots and both squads’ offensive firepower showed in their recent matchup.

In the fast-paced matchup, Tufts eventually emerged 84-73 behind a balanced offensive effort in which four of their five starters scored in double figures.

The purple and white were led by a 28-point, nine-rebound effort from senior swingman Connor Green. Despite the loss, McCarthy stayed hot with a 4 of 6 effort from behind the arc.

Amherst got off to a slow start when Tufts jumped out to a 23-16 lead in the first ten minutes of play. Eric Conklin ’17 worked hard in the paint to bring the team within five points, but Tufts answered with a run of their own to take a 42-21 lead as the clock ticked to a close on the first half of play. Luckily, a McCarthy three reversed the Jumbos’ momentum as the purple and white went on to score 10 of the last 13 points in the first half, bringing Amherst within reach at a 45-31 halftime score.

Entering the second half, Amherst continued to chip away at Tufts’ lead when 3-pointers from McCarthy and Eric Green ’16 cut their deficit to seven points with just under two minutes left on the clock in the second half.

Amherst intentionally fouled to save time, but the Jumbos hit eight out of their 10 free throws and secured several keyboards in the final moments of the game to pull away and ultimately take the game.

Amherst returns to LeFrak to round out their regular season with two crucial conference games this weekend. The purple and white will host Middlebury on Friday evening and will be looking to break their tie with the Panthers for second place in the NESCAC, and then finish off against Hamilton for a special senior day game at 3 p.m. on Saturday.