Men’s Basketball Notches Fourth Straight Victory Due to Strong Defense
Issue   |   Tue, 01/30/2018 - 22:33

This past weekend, the Amherst men’s basketball team returned to the court after a one-week respite from game play. The refreshed Mammoths made the trek to Waterville, Maine on Friday, Jan. 26 looking to improve upon its spot in the NESCAC standings.

In Waterville, Amherst took on the Colby Mules. Strong offensive performances from first-year Grant Robinson and senior captain Michael Riopel led the Mammoths to victory over the host team. Robinson and Riopel tallied 19 points each, while Riopel’s co-captain, Johnny McCarthy ’18, came away with 10 boards. Both Riopel and junior Joe Schneider dished out five assists.

Though the game was closely contested throughout the closing minutes of the second half, Robinson was there for the Mammoths when they needed him, hitting a crucial three-pointer and going 7-8 from the free-throw line within the last three minutes. Pulling away in the last few minutes, the Mammoths secured the five-point win, 82-77.

The following day, Amherst made the short trip from Waterville to Brunswick to face off against the Bowdoin Polar Bears.

Riopel was once again the offensive star for the Mammoths, pacing the team with 18 points. J. McCarthy complemented Riopel’s sharpshooting with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Robinson contributed a team high four helpers in addition to tallying 14 points. Thanks to this quickly emerging top-line trio, Amherst maintained a comfortable lead over Bowdoin throughout the game and notched their third consecutive NESCAC win with a 75-60 victory.

Amherst has continued to improve its overall standing after a rocky patch during interterm play with a solid run during NESCAC play. Riopel and McCarthy noted that the team is instilled with more confidence following their recent victories. As the only seniors on the team, Riopel and McCarthy are particularly invested in the success of their team, hoping to extend the length of their final season.

With a second-half push, the Mammoths would likely be headed into year-end tournaments with advantageous seeding. However, in order for this to become a reality, Amherst must first face the second stretch of the NESCAC’s interleague play.

This past Tuesday, Amherst faced off against Rhode Island College at home, looking to continue what had been an impressive three-game winning streak. Amherst dominated from the start, scoring 41 points to the Anchormmen’s 16 in the opening frame.

The second half proved to be no different, with Amherst again outscoring its opponent 34 to 20.

Every single Amherst player saw the floor during the contest, with Robinson and Tommy Mobley ’19 leading all scorers with 12 points as part of a balanced scoring attack. Also of note was DJ Diabate ’21, who scored his first collegiate points in the contest.

Despite the effective distribution of the scoring responsibilities, what was perhaps most impressive about the Mammoths victory was the defense. No player from Rhode Island was able to score in double figures during Amherst’s best defensive performance of the year.

Amherst will next play against Tufts at home in a NESCAC matchup. Tip-off is at 7 P.M. on Friday, and the Amherst men will be looking to notch their fifth straight victory. Amherst last played Tufts during the end of last year’s campaign, emerging victorious, 84-71.