Men's Basketball Gunning for Home Quarterfinal Game
Amherst (14-7, 3-4 NESCAC) will host second-ranked Williams College (21-1, 7-0) Friday at 8 p.m. and seventh-ranked Middlebury College (19-2, 6-1) Saturday at 4 p.m. to close out the 2009-10 regular season. Live statistics and a live webcast will be available free of charge for each game.
Willy Workman '13 had 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting earlier this season at Williams.
With a 71-55 loss at Brandeis University Tuesday night, Amherst has dropped five of its past six games (0-4 NESCAC) and is in the midst of its first three-game skid since 1999. Getting back on track will be no easy task with a pair of top-10 teams coming to town, but the young Lord Jeff squad can find comfort in the fact that it has seen more success at home than on the road. Most recently, five players scored in double figures during a 105-84 win over Rhode Island College, with Steve Wheeler ’10 and Jeff Holmes ’12 combining for 49 points as the Jeffs shot 64 percent from the floor.
Earlier this season in Williamstown, the Jeffs opened the second half on an 18-6 run and out-scored the Ephs by a 39-29 margin in the final 20 minutes, but the hosts survived a last-second three-point attempt from the visitors to hang on for a 72-69 victory. Willy Workman ’13 shot 7-for-11 for 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals for Amherst in his introduction to the rivalry, but the Jeffs made only four of their 15 free throw attempts. The last time the Jeffs and Ephs met in LeFrak, Williams cruised to an 89-78 victory in conference play. Saturday’s game will be a rematch of the 2009 NESCAC Championship title game that saw the Panthers claim their first conference crown. Middlebury has not tasted victory at LeFrak since the 2000-01 season.
David Waller '12 has averaged 8.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game against Williams in his career.
Williams is riding a 12-game winning streak as one of the most dominant teams in Division III. Twenty of the Ephs’ 21 wins have come by double digits, with four of their seven conference wins coming by at least 20 points. Notably, Williams handed Bowdoin a 43-point loss this past weekend, just one day after defeating Colby by 24. Making a strong case for NESCAC Player of the Year is Blake Schultz ’10, who is leading the conference with 19.0 points per game while shooting 53.6 percent from behind the arc. Middlebury won its first 10 games of the season and has established itself as one of the region’s best teams. While the Ephs lead Division III in scoring margin (+21.4) and field goal percentage (52.3), the Panthers boast the nation’s best field goal percentage defense (36.0) and highest blocks-per-game average (7.3)
One more victory for Amherst will secure a spot in the conference tournament, but the Jeffs can finish as high as fourth and as low as ninth in the NESCAC standings. In order to host a quarterfinal game, the Jeffs would need to win their final two games and have Tufts defeat Bates, also needing Bowdoin to lose at least one game this weekend. Williams—which plays at Trinity on Saturday—wraps up the top seed with one more win or a Middlebury loss, while the Panthers can finish at No. 1 only if two wins are complemented by two Eph losses. Middlebury can finish no lower than third in the standings and is guaranteed to host a quarterfinal game.
Streaks and Milestones:
No Amherst team has finished a season with a perfect record at home in at least 14 years, but this year’s Lord Jeffs have won each of their seven games in LeFrak. Seniors Steve Wheeler and DJ Carcieri have been a part of 47 wins and only four losses at home in their four years, but this weekend could mark the final games they play on their home court. Amherst has qualified for 10 consecutive NCAA Tournaments—the second longest active streak in Division III—and has never been seeded lower than fourth in the conference tournament. The Jeffs have twice earned the No. 4 seed (2001, 2002), winning the NESCAC title each time. Wheeler is currently third on Amherst’s career three-point field goal list (187) and trails only John Pavelski ’98 (190) and Jamal Wilson ’97 (198) for the school’s record.
Check out weekend previews for the women’s ice hockey, men’s ice hockey and women’s basketball teams. Photos from this year's sporting events are available on Amherst's flickr page.