Men’s Basketball Impressive from the Floor, Earns Wins In First Three Games
Issue   |   Tue, 11/28/2017 - 22:23
Photo courtesy of Clarus Studios
Johnny McCarthy ‘18 and the rest of the men’s basketball team have averaged 80 points per game thus far.

Despite graduating more than half its starting lineup last year, the Amherst men’s basketball team has come out strong in their first few games of the 2017-18 season. Per tradition, the Mammoths began their season by hosting the Ken Wright Invitational Tournament, which featured three teams in addition to Amherst — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), Sarah Lawrence College and Western New England University.

Amherst opened tournament play with a game against Sarah Lawrence on Friday, Nov. 17. The Mammoths dominated the visiting Gryphons from tip-off, holding Sarah Lawrence to a measly 23 points in the first half. On the offensive end, the Mammoths scored 42 points before the halftime buzzer sounded.

The second half was much the same, with the Gryphons unable to break down the Amherst defense. In a decisive win, Amherst topped Sarah Lawrence 83-51. First-year Fru Che paced the Mammoths’ offense scoring 13 points off the bench, while Grant Robinson ’21, Tommy Mobley ’20 and Vic Sinopoli ’19 each dished out four assists. Joe Schneider ’19 grabbed 10 rebounds, leading Amherst in a contest in which it out-rebounded Sarah Lawrence 64-36.

This victory proved a testament to the depth of the young Amherst team, with 70 of the 84 points the Mammoths scored coming from non-starters.

The following day, Amherst took on the Golden Bears of Western New England in the final game of the tournament, after Western New England had beaten MCLA to secure a spot in the championship. Amherst had a rocky first half, finding itself trailing the Golden Bears at various points. As the first 20 minutes of the game began to wind down, however, the Mammoths found their groove and went into the locker room with a slight 38-36 edge over the visitors.

In the second half, Amherst continued to build on this newfound momentum, outscoring WNE 35-25 in the frame to cruise to a 73-61 victory and capture the title in the 17th Ken Wright Invitational Tournament.

Sophomore Eric Sellew led the team with 17 points, which also garnered him tournament MVP accolades. Mobley joined his classmate on the All-Tournament Team after scoring 13 points for the Mammoths and going 4-5 from behind the three-point line.

Robinson and senior co-captain Michael Riopel also had impressive performances in the victory. Riopel had 14 points, nine rebounds and two steals, while Robinson posted a double-double with 11 boards, 11 points and four assists.

After a short break, the Mammoths were back in action on Monday, Nov. 20 as they traveled south to face the Owls of Westfield State University. It became evident quickly that the Owls stood no chance against the Mammoths’ staunch defense and keyed-in offense.

Senior co-captain and two-time all-NESCAC honoree Johnny McCarthy was an offensive force for Amherst in their landslide victory, leading the team with 18 points.

Riopel put up noteworthy numbers as well, finishing with a double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds. J. McCarthy’s younger brother, Tim McCarthy ’21 had 10 points off the bench after going 3-4 behind the arc. At the final buzzer, the scoreboard read 84-48 in favor of the Mammoths.

After the opening week of the season, Amherst’s record stands at 3-0. The Amherst men will have over a week to recover from these first three games, as they do not return to action until Saturday, Dec. 2 when they will travel to Boston to take on Emerson College.