|Tri-captain Sam Mason scored eight points for the Jumbos
AMHERST – After an evenly matched first half of play, the Amherst College men's basketball team came alive in the second half of its 96-77 NESCAC win over Tufts University Friday evening at LeFrak Gymnasium. Senior Conor Meehan (Meriden, CT) scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Lord Jeffs.
Amherst broke a 48-48 tie by scoring the game's next nine points to start a 36-14 run that spanned nine minutes. The Jumbos (11-10, 3-4 NESCAC) attempted 17 three-pointers and pulled down 11 offensive rebound in the opening half, but would be slowed down in the second, while the hosts used another outstanding shooting night to improve to 19-0 (6-0 NESCAC).
As one of only four unbeaten teams remaining in Division III, Amherst has matched the second longest winning streak in program history (19). The Jeffs, who entered the weekend leading Division III in scoring margin, shot 58 percent from the floor against the Jumbos to mark their seventh consecutive double-digit victory.
The back-and-forth opening half featured seven ties and saw neither team lead by more than five points. Amherst started to build momentum when Meehan drilled a three-pointer from the corner to make it a 19-14 game with 12:30 remaining, but the visitors pushed right back. Freshman Tom Folliard (Richmond, VA) handed the lead over to the Jumbos by scoring six straight points, as Tufts held a 30-25 advantage with 8:22 on the clock.
Amherst would not regain its lead until Meehan used a three-point play and another two free throws to make it a 38-37 game in favor of the hosts. With the teams knotted at 39 and only 10 seconds remaining in the half, junior David Waller (Tampa, FL) picked up a steal and made an off-balanced pass ahead to sophoomre Allen Williamson (Saugus, MA), who closed out the scoring with a layup that brought the score to 41-39.
The Jumbos entered the game leading the NESCAC in offensive rebounds per game and put that on display in the first half, but they would get only three in the second period. The wheels started to come off for Tufts with 16 minutes to play when the Jeffs used a combination of Williamson, Meehan, freshman Aaron Toomey (Greensboro, NC) and junior Taylor Barrise (Allendale, NJ) to bring the home crowd and bench to life. The game seemed to be put out of reach when Waller drilled a three that gave Amherst an 81-60 advantage with 8:00 on the clock.
Meehan had five assists to go with his 23 points, with Williamson and Barrise adding 14 points apiece for Amherst. Waller totaled 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Toomey pitched in with 12 points, 10 of which came in the second half. Amherst made 57.9 percent of its shots on the night, including a 9-of-14 performance from three-point land.
Sophomore Alex Goldfarb (New York, NY) led Tufts with 15 points on three of nine shooting from behind the arc, with classmate Scott Anderson adding 14 points and five boards (three offensive). The Jumbos attempted 39 field goals in the first half, but only 21 in the second, shooting eight of 22 from long range in the game.
Both teams will return to action tomorrow at 2 pm, as Amherst will host Bates College and Tufts will travel to take on Trinity.
Game release courtesy of Amherst College