Men's Basketball Hopes to Carry Momentum into Postseason Play
Issue   |   Wed, 02/17/2016 - 00:50

With two big wins over conference opponents this weekend, the Amherst men’s basketball team solidified their number two seed going into the NESCAC tournament next Saturday. Friday night saw a shootout in LeFrak when Amherst took down a talented 14-9 Middlebury team, 83-70. This key win was followed up by a successful purple and white senior day, when Amherst took on Hamilton in a low-scoring, defensive battle, ultimately defeating the Continentals, 65-53.

The purple and white picked up a major home win on Friday night when they took down fourth ranked NESCAC opponent Middlebury. Junior guard Jeff Racy was Amherst’s top scorer with 18 points, hitting a perfect 6-6 from three-point range. Johnny McCarthy ’18 added 17 points and senior Connor Green contributed 15 while Amherst shot an impressive 51.7 percent from the field.

After getting off to a slow start, the purple and white picked up the pace, looking to get out in transition against a physical Middlebury squad. In an important game between two teams jostling for postseason seeding, visible contention from both teams showed in the combined 41 free throw attempts seen over the course of the game. Amherst took advantage of the physicality, holding their own in the paint and drawing several shooting fouls, including a pivotal and-one from junior David George that gave the purple and white an eight-point lead at the end of the first half.

Middlebury came out strong after the break with a made layup within the first 40 seconds, but Amherst answered right away through a Racy three-pointer that put the purple and white up by nine again. The Panthers fought hard throughout the second stanza, putting up 37 points and pulling down an impressive 21 rebounds, but the Amherst defense was ultimately too much for them. Two McCarthy blocks helped hold the visitors scoreless in the last minute and a half of play.

The next day saw another home victory for the purple and white, a proper homage to a small, but talented senior class of Connor Green and Ben Pollack. Although a Pollack ACL injury has kept him sidelined this season, he got to see the floor for several minutes in the first half of his final regular season game in LeFrak. Green was the leading scorer for the purple and white on his big day, adding 15 points to the Amherst total and bringing him to a career total of 1,629 points, third on the Amherst College all-time leading scorers list.

Although Saturday was a slower day for the purple and white from the field, their potency from long-range continued. Amherst shot only 39.3 percent from the field but managed an impressive 42.3 percent effort from behind the three-point arc. Racy impressed for the second day in a row, adding 13 to the purple and white’s 65 point total. Amherst won the defensive battle, holding Hamilton to a meager 29.2 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from three-range. McCarthy led the effort on defense, pulling down 10 rebounds for the purple and white assisted by an impressive seven from George. After running into some foul trouble early in the first half Amherst subbed in first-year CJ Bachman, who played consistently well until the half, pulling down three rebounds in the process.

These two wins for Amherst put their record at an impressive 20-4 overall, marking the sixth consecutive season that the purple and white have totaled more than 20 wins. Next up, Amherst will host its NESCAC quarterfinal game against seven-seed Bowdoin on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 4 p.m.