Athletics

Amherst Shoots Lights Out in 105-84 Win Over RIC

Wheeler4
Steve Wheeler '10 hit six three-pointers and finished with a game-high 26 points.

AMHERST, MA – Senior tri-captain Steve Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) and sophomore Jeff Holmes (Saunderstown, RI) combined for 49 points as two of five players to score in double figures for the Amherst College men’s basketball team, which earned a 105-84 win over Rhode Island College Tuesday night in LeFrak Gymnasium.

Rhode Island (13-7) entered the game leading the Little East Conference in scoring defense (68.0 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (.412), but the Lord Jeffs (14-5) shot 68.6 percent from the floor in the first half to take a 60-48 lead into the locker room. The Anchormen went 0-for-10 from behind the arc in the second half and trailed by as many as 23 points, as Amherst put in its highest point total of the season and Rhode Island surrendered at least 100 points for the first time.

The visitors shot an impressive 50 percent and drilled four three-pointers in the first half, but they were overshadowed by Wheeler’s hot hand. The Amherst captain connected from long range three times in each period to finish with 26 points, while Holmes had 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting in only 17 minutes of action to mark a new career high.

Carl Lee ’11, Mike Akinrola ’12 and Jake Grimes ’10 each had at least 16 points and five rebounds while shooting at least 50 percent from the floor for Rhode Island, but their impressive performances were not enough to contend with the stellar shooting of Amherst. Lee finished with a team-high 22 points and seven boards, Akinrola chipped in with 21 points and five rebounds as a dominating presence in the paint, and Grimes added 16 points.

Rhode Island took a 10-9 lead on a lay-up by junior co-captain Darius Debnam three and a half minutes into the contest, but Amherst responded with a 10-0 run. The Jeffs would lead by 13 points on three occasions in the first half, going ahead 41-28 with 5:30 remaining before halftime on a lay-in by first-year Willy Workman (Northampton, MA).

The Anchormen cut their deficit to four points on a pair of Akinrola free throws with only 1:08 to play, but a nice drive to the hoop from Amherst first-year Allen Williamson (Saugus, MA) and a pair of threes from Wheeler—including one at the buzzer—suddenly brought the lead back to 12, as the hosts headed into the break with a 60-48 advantage.

When these teams met last year in Providence, Amherst let an 18-point lead slip away and was out-scored 44-15 in the final 16 minutes, but the Jeffs opened tonight’s second half on a 9-2 run and never looked back. Lee and Akinrola combined for 22 points in the second half, but the Anchormen could not overcome their struggles from long range and never got back into a rhythm on offense.

Taylor Barrise ’12 (Allendale, NJ), David Waller ’12 (Tampa, FL) and Peter Kaasila '13 (Plaistow, NH) each finished with 12 points for Amherst, with Kaasila also pulling down nine rebounds and connecting on all five of his field goal attempts. Six Lord Jeffs had at least two assists on the night, with senior tri-captain DJ Carcieri (Narragansett, RI) leading the way with seven for a career best.

In addition to strong play from Lee, Akinrola and Grimes, Tahrike Carter ’13 had six points and dished out five assists for Rhode Island. Debnam added seven points in only 17 minutes. For Amherst, first-years Williamson and Spencer Noon (Unionville, CT) provided sparks off the bench. Noon had four points and three assists while backing up Carcieri at the point, while Williamson went 3-for-3 for six points.

Amherst improved to 7-0 at home, while the Anchormen fell to 7-3 on the road and 0-2 against the NESCAC. The Lord Jeffs will begin a three-game road trip Friday, Feb. 5, with an 8 p.m. conference game against Bates College. The Anchormen will resume Little East Conference play when they host Keene State College Saturday, Feb. 6, at 3 p.m.

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