Lord Jeffs Pull Away for 69-56 Win at Stevenson (Md.)

Jeff Holmes had 17 points and 12 rebounds for Amherst
in the win at Stevenson (MD.)

STEVENSON, MD – The 11th-ranked Amherst College men’s basketball team traveled south to face Stevenson University in Maryland this afternoon in a return from winter break. Amherst trailed early on, but shook off the rust from vacation to pull away for a 69-56 win. The victory improves Amherst’s record to 7-1 on the year, while dropping Stevenson to 1-10.

After five minutes of action, the host Mustangs held a 9-3 lead over Amherst and had thoughts of an upset. Amherst head coach David Hixon ’75 called a 30 second timeout, and rallied the troops to spark a 7-2 run over the next six minutes to close the gap to 11-10 on a Conor Meehan (Meriden, CT) jumper with 8:45 to play.

With 5:37 to play in the first half, Amherst rookie forward Willy Workman (Northampton, MA) scored off an assist from senior tri-captain Steve Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) to put Amherst ahead 14-13. The Lord Jeffs saw the Mustangs pull even at 14-14 on a Greg Collins free throw, but would never trail again. Amherst ultimately took a 28-24 lead into halftime after a very evenly played stanza.

Amherst started the second half on a 9-2 run, opening up a 37-26 lead on a pair of Meehan free throws with 15:45 to play. Stevenson responded with a run of its own, closing the gap to 39-33 with 13:28 to go, but would never get any closer as Amherst started to pull away after the midpoint of the half.

With just over four minutes remaining in the game, Amherst went on a 9-0 scoring run that included a triple by Wheeler, a dunk by Jeff Holmes (Saunderstown, RI) off a Taylor Barrise (Allendale, NJ) feed, and transition scores by Workman and Wheeler. The scoring spurt opened up a 69-47 lead with just 3:47 to play.

As Hixon gave some much deserved playing time to a handful of younger players down the stretch, Stevenson closed the gap to 69-56 before the final whistle. On the day, Wheeler scored a game-high 21 points, while Holmes had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Barrise added 11 points and 8 rebounds in the win, as Collins was the lone Mustang to find double-digits in scoring with 17 points in the loss.

Amherst will return to campus in the next few days before opening up Little Three play on Wednesday evening at Wesleyan University at 8 p.m. One week from today, Amherst will travel west to face archrival Williams College in the first of two meetings this season.